330 Volunteers Brave Wet Weather to Conserve Chicago-Area Public Lands
In celebration of Earth Day, SCA brought together 330 volunteers from across the Chicago area for a Find Your Park Day of Service at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Despite steady rain showers throughout the day, hundreds of eager volunteers donned ponchoes and galoshes to serve the park. Three busloads of participants boarded SCA’s free shuttles from downtown Chicago, joining local families and school groups from Indiana. Superintendent Paul Labovitz welcomed volunteers: “This year is the 100th Anniversary for the National Park Service. It’s the 200th Anniversary for the State of Indiana. And it’s the 50th Anniversary for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. So we’ve got a lot to celebrate!”
Volunteers set to work across the park. In the West Beach area, groups planted dune grass, cleaned up the beach, and repainted the Bath House to prepare for the summer season. Other groups laid new gravel on trails in the picnic area. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the park, volunteers cut back invasive species to make way for native vegetation to thrive, and renovated trails to give visitors better access to one of the nation’s most biodiverse National Parks.
“We have more different types of plants at Indiana Dunes per unit area than Yellowstone or Yosemite,” NPS Ranger Ted Winterfeld pointed out. “We’ve got bogs, prairie, dunes, savanna… We may be small by the standards of some National Parks, but we pack a lot of biodiversity into a small space. And we’re just 50 miles outside Chicago, so we would love to see more folks from the city come out and appreciate the resources we have to offer.”
As more than half of the 330 volunteers who braved the rain for a day of service were visiting Indiana Dunes for the very first time, SCA is well on the way to building the next generation of stewards for this spectacular National Park.
Special thanks to American Express and to Ted Winterfeld, Kimberly Swift, Paul Labovitz, and all of the amazing staff at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for making this event possible.
Thanks also to the volunteers who joined us from all of the following organizations:
Alpha Phi Omega, Bowen High School, Central School Glencoe, Chicago Public Schools Department of Social Science & Civic Engagement, CIMBY, Cub Scout Pack 525, DeVry University, Elgin Community College, Farragut Career Academy, Friends of the Forest Preserves, Girl Scouts Greater Chicago Northwest Indiana Troop 30413, Illinois Math & Science Academy, Indiana University-Indianapolis, Purdue University, Irene Hernandez Middle School, Hampshire Middle School, Homeschool students, Hubbard High School, Huntley High School, John Hancock College Prep High School, Little Village High School, Loyola University, Northwestern University, Occupy Naperville, PMSA, Rich Central HighSchool, Southwest Airlines, St. Mary Crown Point, UIC BCQ 196, University of Chicago Outdoor Adventure Club, Valparaiso University, Westville National Junior Honor Society
See more photos from the event on SCA’s Chicago Midwest Facebook page.
Stay tuned for updates on future events at www.thesca.org/events.