On May 22, employees from GATX Corporation joined Openlands for a volunteer workday. With the help from Openlands TreeKeepers and staff from the North Park Village Nature Center, GATX employees planted a total of 25 native trees, including eight blue beech, eight swamp white oaks, and nine hills oaks in the nature preserve behind the North Park Village Nature Center.
Openlands TreeKeepers instructed GATX employees in groups of four on the proper ways to plant, mulch, and water the trees. Since the launch of TreeKeepers 25 years ago, more than 1,800 volunteers have completed the program’s training course. TreeKeepers volunteers provide “eyes and ears on the ground” year-round in neighborhoods all over the city to spot improper planting, vandalism, insect infestation, and other problems. TreeKeepers are passionate ambassadors who help educate their neighbors as well as their local public officials about the importance of trees for the greater good.
North Park Village Nature Center features a 46-acre nature preserve and educational facility situated within the 155-acre North Park Village campus that was once the site of a tuberculosis sanitarium owned by the City of Chicago. Openlands was a key partner in a coalition led by the North River Commission that successfully advocated for the preservation of the land as public property after the sanitarium closed and plans were made to redevelop the site as a shopping center. In 1989, Openlands was granted a conservation easement by the City of Chicago on the 155-acre site to preserve all of the existing green space, including the Nature Center, for 75 years.
The nature preserve’s trails now meander through woodlands, wetlands, prairies, and savannas, offering visitors a chance to learn first-hand the distinctive qualities of each ecosystem. The Nature Center boasts a discovery room with hands-on, interactive displays of natural objects. North Park Village Nature Center is open seven days a week (excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays) from 10am-4pm.
Openlands provides volunteer opportunities for corporations at tree plantings, community gardens, and beach clean-ups year round. If you are interested in learning how your workplace can get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312-863-6261.