Wild Ones West Cook Accomplishments 2022

| Community, Learning, Programs

Wild Ones West Cook Accomplishments 2022

by Stephanie Walquist, Board President

Here we are–at the end of our ninth year, and we continue to do impactful grass-roots level work. Read through the highlights of the past year. You will see how we are making a real difference in our community and ensuring the Earth will be a better place for future generations of people and animals.

The following board members whose voluntary, constant, year-round, 24/7 dedication makes our incredibly robust chapter run.

Laura Hartwell Berlin, our Vice-president, is one of the main engines behind our programs, plant sale, and garden tour. There would be no WCWO without her!

Carolyn Cullen brings an incredible amount of expertise in native plants, running our Shopify site, finding sources for native plants, negotiating with plant vendors, communicating with customers about their orders along with all her other advocacy efforts and making new connections for us.

Adrian Ayres Fisher is another engine behind programs, garden tour, and our advocacy efforts.  You’ll read about some of her efforts that have had major long-term impacts.

Candace Blank , Membership chair, makes sure we take into account our members and creates new initiatives to help engage members more.

Sharon Storbeck, Treasurer, also helps with the plant sale logistics and  all the financial nitty-gritty.

Doug Chien, Grant Chair, makes sure the grant program continues.

Byron Lanning brings his distinctive voice to our newsletters and other communications. We are so lucky to have such a talented writer bring his inspired musings and turns-of phrases to our communications.

Kerrie Gonzalez, our Volunteer Coordinator, makes sure we have enough volunteers for our events and ensures that directions are clear so that volunteers have a wonderful experience.

Cynthia Colvin helps us think through possible solutions to the problems we encounter.

We hope our programs, events, and resources help you access nature, understand it, and protect it. We appreciate all of you who attended the programs, gave feedback, bought and planted (!) plants, shared information with friends, neighbors, and workplaces.

Below you can read about what we were up to month by month. Thank you to our members, volunteers, plant sale customers, garden tour attendees, and the FPDCC–your support makes this work possible.

Month-by-Month Activities


  • Member meeting via Zoom
    • Kathleen Garness helped us fine-tune our observation skills and release our inner artists! Super fun.


  • We made donations to Natural Land Institute for their work in protecting Bell Bowl Prairie. Wolf Prairie also needed help being protected from developers, so we donated to Save the Prairie Society and Save Our Savanna.
  • Presentation: Innovations in Pollinator Policy with Damon Hall, University of Missouri


  • Plant Sale opens
  • Presentation: Woodland, Savanna, Prairie: How Native Plant Communities Fit in Your Garden with Iza Redlinski


  • Recipients of 2022 Garden for Nature Grant Announced
    • Fourteen nonprofit and public organizations in the Chicago area received  $250 to $1,000  to buy only native plants or seeds to create native gardens.
  • Advocacy: Adrian Ayres Fisher attends a workshop for the FPDCC referendum.
  • Presentation: Bringing The Woodland Home with Roy Diblik


  • Tabled at Oak Park Farmer’s Market Green Days and at Trailside’s Spring Festival
  • Presentation: Bringing The Savanna Home with Julia Bunn


  • Plant Sale Pick up 648 orders and then there were on-site sales too. 15,000 plants sold! Again, we were so fortunate to partner with the Forest Preserve Department Cook County and Conservation@Home to sell single and kits of native plants by preorder. Buyers picked up the
    Laura putting together the kits.

    plants and plant kits at the Forest Preserves of Cook County Central Warehouse and the Sagawau Environmental Learning Center.

    • Leftover plants, cared for by Laura and other volunteers, donated to grantees Austin People’s Action Center and to St. Edward Catholic Church.
  • Bringing the Prairie Home:  How to Add Native Plants to Your Full Sun Garden with Drew Reaves. No recording.
  • Advocacy: Adrian worked with the Village of Oak Park to ensure that biodiversity and native plants are considered in the Climate Ready Plan. While this connection between biodiversity, native plants, and the climate crisis is obvious to us, to many people in the sustainable/environmental world, it is not.


  • Birds, Bees, & Butterflies: A Native Garden Tour, 275 attendees
Kerrie and sister checking out David Hoyt’s garden.
Katherine shares information about Michelle’s parkway garden.


  • Launched our Invasive Plant Trade-In; ABC 7 News coverage!
  • Tabled at Conservation@Home Celebration, Green Block Parties: Mobilizing for Monarchs (a program created by Sally Stovall), and with Seven Generations Ahead at Brewfest.
  • Presentation: A Brief History of Trees in America with Cindy Crosby. No recording. 


  • Tabled at Wolf Road Prairie’s Prairie Fest and another Green Block Party.


  • Pick up for the Fall Tree and Shrub Sale.
  • Donated extra trees and shrubs to Gage Park Latinx Council, one of our grantees. They are building a food forest. 
  • 14 people picked up their new native trees and/or shrubs for the Invasive Plant Trade-in. As a result of the program, several people learned about invasive plants and then learned that they had them in their yards. Though we started small this year, this program has the potential to have huge impacts.
  • Volunteer Appreciation Party: We had a small gathering in person at  Thatcher Woods Pavilion. Zero-Waste Hors D’oeuvres and drinks prepared by Laura Fisher.
Volunteers getting orders and organizing them at the fall sale. <3
Cynthia and Carolyn at our fall sale.


  • FPDCC Referendum wins!

    One way of getting the word out about the FPDCC referendum. 🙂
  • Planning is underway for next year’s plant sales, programs, and garden tour.
  • Adrian represents WOWC at Climate Ready Community Outreach to Oak Park (COOP) group meeting.
  • Led by Adrian, WOWC is contributing to a list of plants NOT recommended for planting in Oak Park. She also met with Alderpeople in Riverside about creating a similar list for them.
  • Adrian wrote a letter about bird-safe windows for new developments.

We hope that in reviewing some of our work over the course of the year you feel proud of what you’ve enabled and hopeful for the future. Thank you to everyone who is taking care of the environment and animals, wherever you are.