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S18 Episode 04: Naper Settlement’s Future Agricultural Center



Naper Settlement, the community's unique outdoor history museum, is planning an exciting new interpretive center that will showcase Naperville’s farming heritage. Guests Rena Tamayo-Calabrese, Donna Sack and Jeanne Schultz Angel explain how the center will help tie farming from the past to agriculture of today and tomorrow. This episode is part of Series 18: Remembering our Agricultural Heritage.

Historic Copenhagen Schoolhouse at Naper Settlement. Built in the 1840s and originally located in south Naperville, this one-room schoolhouse educated children from neighboring farms through the second half of the 19th century.

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Quotes from the episode: “Sometimes we don’t appreciate the role that agriculture has played throughout our country’s history. And as part of the Corn Belt, we have a very important story to tell and we’re lucky enough to still have some of the people living that are part of that story.” Rena Tamayo-Calabrese

“Illinois has some of the richest farmland in the world. The black soil was absolutely coveted by those early farmers. (At the Ag Center) we can train people to look at the landscape a little bit differently; when you see that line of Osage Orange trees that are around Naperville, those are historic fence lines from farms.” Jeanne Schultz Angel

Aerial view of the Wheatland Plowing Match and Naperville's agricultural landscape. Photo courtesy of the Little White School Museum.

“Our concept for the agricultural laboratory is to have a hands-on working laboratory where kids can work in botany, biology, or maybe chemistry—those pieces of science that go into farming. Not only that, but to have video and communications equipment so that kids sitting in the laboratory can talk to a farmer who is out in the field or on break and can talk about what the rest of the afternoon is going to look like.” Donna Sack

Learn more about Naper Settlement’s plans for a future Agricultural Interpretive Center.

The Naperville Park District is grateful to be able to partner with Naper Settlement to make Naperville’s history more accessible to everyone. Naper Settlement staff assisted the Park District in gathering historic information and photographs for many interpretive signs in our parks. The newest interpretive sign, which celebrates the history of the farm community in Naperville, will be on display at Wolf’s Crossing Community Park when the park is opened. Other park locations with interpretive signs highlighting stories of the past include Seager Park, Knoch Knolls Nature Center and Centennial Beach.

Photo of a barn raising in 1894, courtesy of Naper Settlement. This photo will appear on the interpretive sign at Wolf's Crossing Community Park.

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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
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