The DuPage Monarch Project recognized the Fox Valley and Naperville Park Districts at a virtual awards ceremony on January 19th for their outstanding commitments to the recovery of monarchs and pollinations. While many things came to a standstill during the coronavirus pandemic, the Fox Valley and Naperville Park Districts continued on with their mission of providing islands of nature where both people and pollinators find safe refuge from the challenges they’re facing.

Fox Valley Park District is the recipient of the Jane Foulser Habitat Award for the addition of over 19 acres of habitat during the past year. The District has been developing additional pollinator habitat within the 548 acres classified and managed as natural areas since 2016 when they joined the DuPage Monarch Project. As the evidence of pollinator decline grows and the critical role they play in ecological and human health becomes clear, Fox Valley Park District is to be commended for steadily increasing the amount and quality of suitable habitat available to bees, butterflies and the many species of pollinating insects.

“This award validates the commitment of the Fox Valley Park District and our staff to pollinator habitat. Expansion, enhancement and management of pollinator habitat remain a top priority of our Board of Commissioners. It directly supports our pillar of conservation and environmental stewardship and we appreciate the DuPage Monarch Project’s collaborative approach in addressing monarch decline,” said Jeff Palmquist, Director of Planning, Research and Grants for the Fox Valley Park District.

Naperville Park District is the recipient of the Pat Miller Community Engagement Award for their longstanding commitment to involving residents in the District’s natural areas development and enhancement from the planning to planting phase. While habitat projects are in the planning stage, residents are offered an opportunity to comment and provide input. Volunteers take active roles in the creation of new habitat and enhancing and maintaining existing areas. Scouts, corporate, church and service groups regularly volunteer for weeding, seeding, planting and removing invasive species. In 2018 and 2019, volunteers participated in a Dandelion Pull, cosponsored by Midwest Grows Green, as part of the natural land maintenance approach used at Knoch Knolls Park. The extensive community participation spreads awareness of the problems facing pollinators and provides ways for concerned residents to be directly involved in the solutions.

“We thank the DuPage Monarch Project for this award which recognizes our efforts to not only increase monarch habitat but educate the public about this important issue. Each year we display monarch butterflies in our nature center, allowing visitors to view the stages of a monarch’s life. Since 2016 we have added 5 Monarch Waystations to our parks and hosted a Monarch Festival that was attended by 700 people. At the Naperville Park District, we are committed to taking care of the environment by expanding pollinator habitat and involving the community each step of the way,” said Angelique Harshman, Nature Center Manager at the Knoch Knolls Nature Center.

“DuPage Monarch Project is proud of the Fox Valley and Naperville Park Districts for integrating pollinator preservation into the vision for their parks,” said Lonnie Morris, Coordinator, DuPage Monarch Project. “Excellent progress is being made on achieving our shared vision of a pollinator friendly county.”

DuPage Monarch Project is an umbrella organization for the collaboration of four premier DuPage environmental organizations united in their concern for pollinator decline. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, River Prairie Group of the Illinois Sierra Club, The Conservation Foundation, and Wild Ones Greater DuPage Chapter share the goal of increasing public awareness of the plight of pollinators and advocating for increasing the amount of healthy habitat available for them.