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2017 Accomplishments

January through October—Small Waters Education played a major role in the organizing, designing, growing plants for, installing, and maintaining a 2,500 square foot Native Pollinator Garden at Johnsburg Elementary/Jr. High School. This was a joint project with Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, McHenry County Schools Environmental Education Program, True Nature Consulting, Johnsburg School faculty and staff, and many community volunteers. Funding was provided through a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Students at Johnsburg school helped plant the garden, and are benefiting from an outdoor classroom where they can observe native plants and pollinators. Small Waters members will continue to coordinate the maintenance of the garden for the next 5 years.

January ­­7—Greg Rajsky taught a class in Winter Oak Identification at Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Campus.

February 18—Greg Rajsky presented a workshop entitled Toward a Savanna Flora at the Wild Things Conference.

February 25—Small Waters directors reached out to the community by staffing an information table at the Native Landscaping Conference organized by the Wildflower Preservation and Propagation Committee at McHenry County College.

March 2—Jack Speer taught a class at McHenry County College on Backyard Habitat, with information on how to attract beneficial wildlife to your yard.

March 16—Judy Speer taught a class on Creating a Butterfly Garden with Native Plants at McHenry County College.

March 25—Small Waters Education hosted an afternoon-long workshop Journey to Empowerment, based on the Work that Reconnects. Gathered among the old oaks in the savanna, participants immersed in the path of gratitude, honoring our pain for the world, seeing with new eyes, and going forth with renewed energy supported by the story of the Universe.

April 7—Judy Speer guided a survey of threatened butternut trees in a nearby natural area with representatives of the Plants of Concern project and the McHenry County Conservation District.

April 16Our fourth Annual Gathering drew 35 friends and supporters for some good company, home-cooked food, and music by Kendra Swanson. The Everyday Superhero Awards honored local water protectors Cindy Skrukrud and Randy Stowe.

April 28-30—Greg Rajsky helped plan and lead the Weekend of Restoration for McHenry County Conservation District.

May 5—Margaret Fox-Hawthorne taught a class on Raising Backyard Chickens at Elgin Community College.

May 6—Greg Rajsky and Jack and Judy Speer guided a dozen volunteers from Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple to plant 10 oak trees in the savanna restoration on the Alden Sedge Meadow site of the McHenry County Conservation District.

June 9-11—Judy Speer facilitated two workshops for the Midwest Womens Herbal Conference in Almond, WI: Practical Permaculture for Everyone and Rooted in the Sun, Blossoming the Earth—a Deep Ecology of Plants.

June 19-July 30—Summer Intern Thabisa Mazur participated in native plant propagation, pollinator garden installation, permaculture design, and ecological restoration.

July 1—The Small Waters community celebrated the Aphelion with an afternoon workshop Rooted in the Sun, Blossoming the Earth—A Deep Ecology of Plants. The evening program included a sacred fire ceremony, community drumming, and a special presentation of the Universe Story.

July 23—Greg Rajsky, Jack and Judy Speer, and Thabisa Mazur participated in the Monarch Mania Fun Fair at Crystal Lake beach, leading a jigsaw puzzle activity to teach kids and adults about butterflies and host plants, sharing information about school pollinator gardens and how to attract pollinators to home landscapes.

July 25—Jack and Judy Speer and Thabisa Mazur hosted the Youth Conservation Corps, led by Greg Rajsky, in removing invasive brush from the historic Brandow Cemetery, part of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge.

July 29—Thabisa Mazur, Jack and Judy Speer joined in a group site assessment for Valley View Elementary School in McHenry, discussing the possibilities for outdoor classroom habitat improvement. This visit resulted in a series of meetings, facilitated by Judy and Jack, to start an organization named Educating in Harmony with Nature.

August 10—Holly Stephenson presented the results of her Permaculture research project to the Permaculture class at College of Lake County. Her experiment showed how the addition of native plants and permaculture design improved the yields of annual vegetables.

August 19—Jack and Judy Speer led two workshops at the Illinois Renewable Energy Fair in Oregon, IL: Plant a Garden—Save the Pollinators and Telling the Universe Story for a Sustainable Future

September 15-17—Greg Rajsky helped to plan and lead the Weekend of Restoration for the McHenry County Conservation District, exploring the theme of Women in Conservation.

October 7—Jack and Judy Speer hosted a field trip for the Permaculture class from College of Lake County, which included a green and natural building tour, and planting native trees.

October 12—Greg Rajsky presented Adult Engagement: Case Studies of Adult Education in Stewardshipat the Midwest Environmental Education Conference in St. Charles, Illinois.

December 12—Judy and Jack Speer met with staff members of Westwood Elementary School in Woodstock to assess the site for a proposed native pollinator garden. Holly Stephenson helped to research soil type and presettlement vegetation for the site.

Serving the Chicago Wilderness Area of Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin

Reconnecting People and Nature

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