Park Talk Blog
Mighty Acorns Take Root at Meadow Glens Park: Connecting Kids to Nature
- Created on Thursday, 05 December 2013 11:49
- Written by Sue Omanson
The natural areas at Meadow Glens Park got a boost this year, thanks to a group of enthusiastic students from the environmental committee at Meadow Glens School. For two brisk afternoons, one in May and one in October, a group of fourth and fifth graders took shovels in hand as the “Mighty Acorns” to improve the park that is located immediately across the street from their school.
Accessible path through the “corner woods” at Meadow Glens
The Mighty Acorns program is an educational outreach of The Conservation Foundation in which Foundation staff work with local elementary schools that are within walking distance of a park or forest preserve. The goal of the program is to “introduce youth in the Chicago metropolitan area to nature through stewardship and exploration in a way that fosters a personal connection to natural areas.” Conservation Foundation staff share their curriculum with fourth and fifth grade teachers and plan several outdoor workdays with the students each year.
Students plant prairie plugs at Meadow Glens
Judy Fitchett explains the benefits of native plants with deep roots.
On May 10, 2013 the Mighty Acorns gathered with fifth grade teacher Carin Chidley at Meadow Glens Park and The Conservation Foundation staff to plant prairie plugs and to tag trees for Arbor Day. Conservation staff member Judy Fitchett used an illustration and an exercise with strings to show the students how deep the roots of native prairie plants are compared to those of turf grass. The students also used an online calculator to determine the value of each tree’s environmental benefits and then wrote the dollar amount on the tree tag. Tags were provided by the Morton Arboretum
Students stretch strings to show depth of plant roots
Marking the tree’s value on an Arbor Day tag
Might Acorns at Meadow Glens Oct. 16, 2013
On October 16, 2013 a larger group of students returned to the park with Conservation Foundation staff member Carolyn Wagner and teacher Carin Chidley to plant trees that will enlarge the small “corner woods” with a variety of native trees. Naperville Park District staff member Danielle Hlava assisted while students finished digging holes for the trees.
Park staff member Danielle Hlava assists students in planting a tree
Planting a hackberry tree at Meadow Glens
Additionally, a group of students planted tulip bulbs in another area of the park.
Although the afternoon was chilly for October, the kids enjoyed being outdoors and were happy to see the new trees standing upright in the ground.
The prairie plants which they planted last spring had grown tall and filled in the area on the east side of the park.
View of the prairie in October where Mighty Acorns planted plugs in May
Ms. Chidley said that many students use the park for gym class, after school running club and even cross country skiing when snow permits. With the park so close to the school, they will be able to monitor the trees that they planted and watch the prairie grow.