WOODRIDGE, Ill. – Boundary Hills in DuPage County is now home to 25 new oak trees thanks to local 4-H youth, community members, and organizations. The group of oak trees, known as a savanna, will help restore this tornado-damaged area, as well as supplement oak-hickory forests currently under threat in Illinois.
“Oak savannas are being overtaken by invasive species, as well as more shade-tolerant trees, such as maples,” said Curt Sinclair, University of Illinois Extension 4-H specialist. “The natural world is talking to us, and Illinois 4-H is primed to listen, learn, and act.”
Illinois 4-H partnered with Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) to help bolster local forests by planting 950 oak trees in 38 counties this spring. The 4-H Green Communities Tree Program tackles global issues at a local level by combining the "learn by doing" philosophy of 4-H with guidance of the Illinois Forest Action Plan. When combined with the 2022 plantings, this effort brought a total of 1,725 new oak trees to our state.
On April 2, local volunteers – including 4-H families, Master Gardeners, and Master Naturalists – teamed up to plant a mix of bur, red, and white oak species in an area damaged by a June 2021 tornado. The new savanna is a step toward restoring the site that lost an estimated 300 mature trees.
Kane-DuPage SWCD provided the trees and mulch, and staff of Woodridge Park District, University of Illinois Extension, and SWCD gave guidance and provided a tree planting demonstration.
“It was wonderful to see everyone come together and dig in to help 4-H with this effort,” said Nancy Reppe, 4-H Program Coordinator in DuPage County. “Together, we’re making a difference for the environment and future generations. The 4-H youth learned how to plant and mulch trees properly, and we look forward to watching these oak trees grow over time.”
To help support this project, visit go.illinois.edu/4hgreencommunity. Prairie Materials provided support for this program. Learn more about 4-H in DuPage, Kane, and Kendall counties at go.illinois.edu/info4Hdkk.
About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.
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Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences.