Community Outreach

Want to Help Spread the Word about Native Plants?

We have developed presentations and materials for community groups who would like to learn about native plants, their roles in the environment, and how to use them in their landscapes.  We are also working on materials and lessons to share with schools. Our presentations are “Wildly Beneficial: Native Plants” as well as “Boost Next Year’s Biodiversity: Fall Preparation in the Native Habitat Garden” (discusses the rational for avoiding traditional clean-up and tips on maintenance and creating new gardens in the fall). For the butterfly lovers out there, we have “Creating Butterfly Habitats: Though the Seasons.Pam at Adler

We can also help with planning your organization’s garden or point you in the direction of landscapers who know their native plants.

Community Outreach 2018

April 2018: Earth Fest at Oak Park Public Works (Stephanie Walquist and AnnMarie G); Berwyn’s Earth Day (Mary Peranteau)

May 2018: Trailside’s Spring Fest (Mary Peranteau)

June 2018: St. Giles School with Sharon Storbeck who presented on pollinators and assisted with the planting of a native rain garden, which will now do multiple levels of ecosystem services. From St Giles’s Students: 

“Thank you to West Cook Wild Ones for donating the plants, and the design for the pollinator “rain” garden at St. Giles School. Sharon Storbeck from West Cook Wild Ones talked with the students about the importance of native plants and pollinators. Students at St. Giles planted the garden this spring. We look forward to watching our garden grow! Our “rain” garden is now part of the Chicagoland’s “Wildlife-Corridor.”

The Students at St. Giles School







Community Outreach 2017

03/04/17 & 03/05/17 – Hometown Habitat
Premiere screenings at the One Earth Film Festival Triton College and at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Filmmaker Katherine Zimmerman spoke about her film and the West Cook Wild Ones tabled at both events. Over 125 viewers, some of whom came from Northern Wi and IN for the screenings.

03/23/17 – Monarch Butterfly Habitat Field Museum/Chicago Wilderness
The Chicago Flower & Garden Show this habitat was designed to educate about the life cycle of Monarch butterflies with a $2.00 donation that went towards saving the Monarch. We tabled at the event and gave out Asclepias incarnata Rose Milkweed seed packets provided by the Field Museum. We reached out to over 50 people.

03/35/17 – Chicago Community Gardeners Conference
The Breakthrough FamilyPlex Theme: Gardeners Grow Communities. The West Cook Wild Ones tabled at the event. Over 250 diverse gardeners from all across Chicago attended the Conference and we met quite a few of them.

Community Outreach 2016

We were busy in 2016.  We love getting out there and sharing our love for native plants. These activities are beyond our monthly programs. 

Feb 2016:  We presented to PlanItGreen’s Lunch and Learn in February and again in April.   For both events, we discussed the benefits of native plants and how institutions and organizations can join our Wildlife Corridor.; Final Pitch Party for the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation’s Big Idea Contest

March 2016: Tabled at One Earth Film Festival’s screening of Inhabitat: A Permaculture Perspective. Tabled at LaGrange’s Sustainability Fair.  Stephanie along with Emily Minor, UIC Ecology Professor, held a workshop “Pollinator Power” for D97’s Young Scientist’s Conference. Pam and Katarina presented to Oak Park Temple “Wildly Beneficial”


Student rubs pollen on a bumblebee specimen

Student observes a pollinator under a microscope

Student observes a pollinator under a microscope


Photo of the bumblebee that been rubbed with pollen under a microscope

April 2016: Tabled at the Adler Planetarium for their Earth Day Celebration in partnership with WBEZ; Pam Todd presented at Dominican University about native plants and at a Lunch and Learn for Schools.  Sponsored a special viewing of Symphony of the Soil at North Riverside Library

May 2016: Tabled for Springfest at Trailside Museum; Stephanie presented to Fredrick Law Olmstead Society (video here: Rethinking Your Lawn) and to the OPRF Rotary Club.  We also tabled for Green Days at the Oak Park Farmer’s Market on May 21 and 28th.  Assisted with local schools’ new gardens (Holmes and Mann). 

June 2016:  Tabled at Chicago Botanic Garden’s World Environment Day, Green Days at Oak Park Farmer’s Market, Farmer’s Market in Berwyn. Native plant garden installed at Ascension church.

July 2016: Marched in Oak Park’s 4th of July Parade, handed out materials, seeds, and even some milkweed seedlings, July Social Gathering at Oak Park Conservatory, First Show-Me Help-Me, handed out brochures at Ascension Church’s native garden which was a stop on Sugar Beet Co-op’s Garden Tour

August 2016: Show Me-Help Me with Ginger at Good Shepherd Church, consult with Brooks Middle School and Rush Hospital regarding plants for their new gardens.

September 2016: Assisted with Brooks School Garden planting, Show Me-Help Me at a member’s house, help with Rush’s “Healing Garden”; participated in Monarch Celebration at Trailside; Chicago Living Corridors Launched (and MacArthur Grant submitted written by Art Smith, board member) (Pam Todd WCWO President and Art are both on the board of CLC).  Supported Green Community Connections with its Fall Tree and Shrub Sale

October 2016:  Presented WCWO’s program “Wildly Beneficial,” an introduction to native plants, to a Dominican University class



Recently we had the honor of talking about our work and the connection between native plants and biodiversity with an absolutely wonderful group of students at Dominican University.  They researched and studied the land behind Parmer Hall and created designs to change the landscape from one dominated by lawn to one that will be beautiful and life-giving and support their honeybee hives as well as the other pollinators.  They also have a vision to draw the entire community into the gardens.  What a great opportunity for them to apply their learning in an authentic way.  Here are these wonderful young people presenting their inspiring projects. Don’t you just feel so hopeful for the future?

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Photo in featured image: The art we produced for River Forest Whole Foods in April 2014 for their Earth Month display in partnership with Jocelyne Adkins.    It was a four part display featuring the life cycle of the Monarch and how humans can help to ensure their survival.  Children created Monarchs and added to the last panel featuring the  Oyamil Firs which the Monarchs use to overwinter.

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We participated in last year’s Oak Park’s Diversity Parade, and our theme was to bring back the biodiversity; we had fun distributing materials, seeds, and even some seedlings of Rose Milkweed and Purple Prairie Clover. Photos courtesy of Kevin McCarey.


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