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Elmhurst Volunteers Pay Tribute to Earth Day by Rolling up Their Sleeves and Getting Green

Cub Scouts, Adopt-a-Park volunteers jump right in to clean up and help plant.

Happy Earth Day! Several groups around town are pulling on their work gloves and picking up shovels to make Elmhurst a greener place.

It was chilly enough for winter coats and hot coffee at 9 a.m. Saturday morning when Elmhurst Park District kicked off its annual Adopt-a-Park program. But that didn't deter a dedicated group on 20 or so volunteers from showing up at the formal gardens at Wilder Park to get their marching orders from Park District personnel.

The Adopt-a-Park program puts willing community members into the parks to pick up debris and perform other tasks to keep the parks in top shape.

Community members of all ages showed up.

"We view you as an extension of the park ambassadors," said park ambassador supervisor Jim Doherty.

Park ambassador roam the parks from April to October assisting residents, overseeing the picnic areas and just generally making sure everyone is obeying the rules.

The Adopt-a-Park folks are mainly asked to perform cleanup duty, with some light weeding around tree rings and fence lines. They also report vandalism and make recommendations on improving park equipment and plantings.

"The biggest challenge are the dog-friendly folks," Doherty said.

After the park district got involved with last year, there were noticeably fewer dog reminders in the parks, but there is still room for improvement.

"We're trying to get to 100 percent (poo-free)," Doherty said, adding that Adopt-a-Park volunteers should feel free to offer friendly reminders to pet owners.

Park District staff also will be on hand to help volunteers in any number of ways.

"We want our parks looking the best they can," Park Maintenance Supervisor Ken Heflin said. "You can count on us being there during your work days."

Adopt-a-Park volunteers begin on April 1 and maintain their designated parks monthly through Dec. 31.

Sadly, two parks have not yet been adopted— and . We're not sure why these lovely parks haven't found any parents yet, but individuals, youth groups, service organizations or anyone else who would like to take them on can submit an Adopt-a-Park packet. For more information, click here.

Also on Saturday, a group of Cub Scouts from Emerson and Hawthorne schools headed to Elmhurst College to plant some trees with certified arborist Paul Hack and his team.

They planted perennials, nursery plants for future transplanting, and four other trees around campus. The tallest tree was 4 feet. The tallest Cub Scout was not much taller than that.

About 30 scouts and 30 adults fueled up on doughnuts and hot chocolate before  getting to work. It was cold outside, but they managed to work up a sweat.

Elmhurst College campus is well-known for its huge plant variety, which is not only nice to look at, but is a learning tool for college students and others, like these Cub Scouts. The college's award-winning arboretum has many exotic specimens and encompasses the entire, 48-acre campus, according to the college's website.

These events would probably have happened even if it wasn't Earth Day weekend, but it was a fitting commemoration, nonetheless.

Here is just a sampling of other  Earth Day events in Elmhurst:

  • Walk-to-school day was on Friday, April 20, for Elmhurst District 205 schools.
  • Hawthorne Elementary students and staff on Friday were awarded the from SCARCE and DuPage County for their efforts in environmental education and waste reduction.
  • Eco Club at York High School presented two lectures: The Story of Clean Water, an Evening with Dr. Jack Scheaffer; and Conservation at Home, with land preservation specialist Jim Kleinwachter of the Conservation Foundation.
  • Elmhurst Historical Museum is holding events revolving around Eco Elmhurst: Shaping the Future of Elmhurst, through May 6

And, don't forget, the annual Prairie Path cleanup will be held next Saturday, April 28. Meet at the old train depot at York and South streets at 9 a.m.

How did you commemorate Earth Day this year? Tell us in the comments.

Life.Is.Good April 22, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Thanks everyone!
NancyC April 22, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Great effort volunteers! Just wondering if park ambassador is a full time position and how many are on the payroll?
Jim Court April 22, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I believe the current leader of the Park has the best of intentions. In an era of tight budgets I question two items. Is it necessary to have individuals drive up to the park and basically see if the park is still there and why must grass cutting take place during periods of drought and the grass has not grown enough to merit cutting. Wasted man hours, wear and tear of equipment, fuel cost and pollution. During peak hours, a visible park ambassador who picked up papers, monitored activities, and kept a watchful eye would be a big plus. Living next to East End Park I have witnessed much drinking and drug use and must constantly pick up their trash. I love our Parks and appreciate the efforts that keep them so nice. I offer these suggestion in a positive spirit with the belief that everything can be improved which includes me.
Karen Chadra (Editor) April 23, 2012 at 01:34 AM
There are six part-time park ambassador positions. The program cost the district $80,000 last year, according to an article in TribLocal. http://triblocal.com/elmhurst/2011/04/06/vandals-strike-parks-during-warmer-weather/
Kevin April 23, 2012 at 03:03 AM
"After the park district got involved with Poo-Free Parks last year, there were noticeably fewer dog reminders in the parks, but there is still room for improvement." So so so true! As a dog owner and a resident of Elmhurst I can attest to the "fewer dog reminders in the parks," and this is all thanks to Poo Free Parks and all of their hard work and all of the great community sponsors who help support Poo Free Parks in Elmhurst for us to walk our loved ones in.

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