NWF Student Fellow Brings Native Landscaping to North Central College

Guest Post by NWF Fellow Heidi Goetsch

Friends and students plant native plants at campus library. Photo Credit: Steve Woltmann

Friends and students plant native plants at campus library. Photo Credit: Steve Woltmann

Every year North Central College, in Naperville IL, out grows its existing buildings and must work to function with an overflowing population. My campaign, Protecting Wildlife in Cities and Suburbs, aims to increase biodiversity in an urban environment, preserve what green space is left, and educate the surrounding communities on the benefits of native plants. To complete these goals I worked on creating a native plant guide that detailed the importance of choosing natives, listed a number of Illinois native plants that would work well in a prairie garden or small home garden and included landscape architecture sketches of a garden installed on North Central’s campus as an example of how to use the guide. Earth Day, on April 22nd , culminated in the installation of this large native plant garden at a gateway location between our campus community and the surrounding Naperville community.

Preparing for the planting day was a long process and involved help from many organizations on campus including the marketing department, faculty and students and the campuses environmental club Green Scene. There were four plots surrounding the college’s library that were planted with over one hundred Illinois native plants. The plants were purchased from a local nursery located a few miles away from Naperville. The staff at Midwest Groundcovers helped to advise my landscape sketches and directed me to some native plans that I had not previously included in my guide.

In addition to planting the garden on Earth Day North Central received its Conservation at Work award from the Conservation Foundation. This award is given to businesses who show they are taking sustainability seriously by planting native gardens, supporting stewardship of the land through invasive species control, water conservation, pollution control and reduction of chemicals used. This fellowship from the National Wildlife Federation made this award possible for North Central by giving us the means to plant such a large native garden and continue to demonstrate the college’s dedication to sustainability.

Heidi receiving the Conservation Foundation award. Photo Credit: Steve Woltmann

Heidi receiving the Conservation Foundation award. Photo Credit: Steve Woltmann

I was very thankful and surprised to see so many friends, community members, past professors, and staff members join the planting ceremony on Earth Day. The library staff all came out to help plant and many were interested in using my guide for their home gardens. There were a number of volunteers who had questions about native plants or wanted help with their own garden. Many were very pleased with the location of the native garden. North Central community members thought that the library needed to be re-landscaped. Library staff members voiced that they couldn’t wait to look out their window and see the vibrant colors of the natives blooming. There were upwards of 40 volunteers who attended. As a result, the planting process only took 45 minutes and there was time left over to enjoy the beautiful weather and some Earth Day Cookies. Thank you again to all who attended, volunteered and made the event so successful.

About the Author

Heidi GoetschNWF Fellow Heidi Goetsch is currently finishing her senior year at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Environmental Studies. She is currently involved in a number of activities as an undergraduate. She plays bass in the North Central College Jazz Program, works as an officer in the Philosophy Club, is treasurer of the campus environmental club Green Scene, involves herself in SIFE (students in free enterprise) selling direct trade coffee, and works at the campus sustainability office.

At the sustainability office, she works on a number of initiatives including the battery and electronics recycling program, Green House Gas Inventory, the campus vegetable garden and updating social media sites with volunteer events, green tips and environmental news articles.  Heidi plans to attend graduate school for environmental studies in the fall of 2014 and her career path is aimed at studying environmental law. Her goal is to work for a national organization, such as the National Wildlife Federation, in aiding their law staff in protecting the environment and educating people on environmentally friendly practices. Prior to attending college, Heidi had only minimal experience with environmental issues. Thanks to the help of her professors and the sustainability staff at North Central College, Heidi was able to explore the field of environmental studies and become more educated on the issues we deal with today.

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