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Bureau County 4-Hers Plant Native Oak Species at City County Park

City County Park in Bureau County is now home to 25 new native oak trees. Volunteers and current 4-Hers worked together to plant four different types of oak trees at the park. These species included Northern Red Oak, Jackiana Oak, Bur Oak, and Black Oak.

4-h member planting a tree
Kallie Curley, Bureau Bulldogs 4-H member, fills in a hole while planting one of the twenty-five native oak trees at City County Park, Princeton, IL. The 4-H Green Communities Tree Program event took place on Saturday, April 9th.

Oaks have been an important part of Illinois’s ecological history. Hundreds of years ago, they were much more common as part of oak savanna landscapes or oak-hickory forests. This new planting will help to restore these landscapes that are currently under threat in Illinois. The 4-H Green Communities Tree Program focuses on tackling regional issues at a local level. “Oak savannas are being overtaken by invasive species, as well as more shade-tolerant trees, such as maples,” says Curt Sinclair, University of Illinois Extension 4-H specialist. “Illinois 4-H is primed to take action to increase the number of oak trees in the state. The natural world is talking to us, and Illinois 4-H is primed to listen, learn, and act.”

Bureau County Soil and Water Conservation District worked with Superintendent of Parks, Matt Wright, to select City County Park in Princeton, IL as the planting location for our 25 oak trees because of its good public access and suitability for oak species. The site is within a public park located just outside of the largest population center in the county. The trees were planted as a transition strip between forest cover and open grass, smoothing the transition from closed canopy to open vegetation at the park. Mature, healthy oaks currently exist on the property, and our young trees will continue to provide important ecological benefits to this park.

Bureau County youth took part in the planting in Bureau county alongside 4-H staff, Master Gardeners and Bureau County Soil and Water Conservation District staff.

“Any time 4-H can provide youth opportunities to impact their community, we are all in,” shared Danielle Gapinski, 4-H and Youth Development Program Coordinator, “Through this partnership we hope to have instilled the values of teamwork, community pride, and environmental stewardship”.

Throughout the spring of 2022, youth in 31 counties throughout Illinois are planting groupings of 25 oak trees on public properties in their county for a total of 775 newly planted trees across the state.

The 4-H Green Communities Tree Program follows the "learn-by-doing" philosophy of 4-H and is guided by the priorities of the Illinois Forest Action Plan.  To help support this project, please visit:

WRITER: Danielle Gapinski, Bureau County 4-H and Youth Development Program Coordinator
SOURCE: Curt Sinclair, Illinois Extension 4-H Natural Resources and Shooting Sports Specialist

participants planting trees at park
Participants in the Green Communities Tree Program pose together before planting 25 native oak trees at City County Park, Princeton, IL.

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