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Earth Day in the Parks Grant Supports Scout Project to Plant Pollinator Plants

On Sunday, May 22, scouts from Troop 75 and other volunteers planted approximately 500 native pollinator-friendly plants at Hobson West Ponds, a Naperville Park District park located at 1047 S. West Street. The project is being supported, in part, by an Earth Day in the Parks grant in the amount of $977.50 awarded to the Naperville Park District and co-sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), the Ada L. Rice Foundation and the Illinois Conservation Foundation. Naperville Park District is one of 11 Illinois park districts to receive a grant.

The Earth Day in the Parks grant promotes environmental stewardship by supporting youth involvement in planting projects that enhance the wildlife habitat in parks. IDNR’s Division of Education has conducted the grant program in state parks with school students since 2007. For the first time in 2022, IDNR was able to expand the program to include park districts, thanks to support from the Ada L. Rice Foundation and the Illinois Conservation Foundation.

Eagle Scout Candidate Austin Gianino, age 15, coordinated the project at Hobson West Ponds to help fulfill the requirements to become an Eagle Scout.

“This is a park that our troop has adopted, and it was a nice opportunity to further beautify the area and give back to the community in a sustainable way,” said Austin. “My project consisted of planting a variety of native plants to make a pollinator garden and I look forward to seeing the garden transform over the next couple of months and watch it spring to life.”

The scouts planted 14 species of plugs, which are seedlings that are grown in small containers and are ready to plant. Each species was selected from a list provided by IDNR that includes a variety of prairie plants that are native to Illinois and attractive to pollinator insects and birds. The plugs were planted in three oval-shaped planting beds at Hobson West Ponds near the shelter that was installed in 2021, overlooking the prairie that was planted with the help of volunteers in 2009. Following the May 22 planting, an additional 200 plugs, which were back ordered, will be planted in the three beds to complete the original design.

Park visitors can view the new pollinator gardens from turf trails which wind around the gardens and also connect to the other natural areas of the park, which include a small wooded area, two ponds and a prairie restoration area. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including multiple species of frogs, monarch butterflies, swallowtail butterflies, song birds and raptors.

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