Local groups host Conservation Day-Camp

June 8, 2011

Staff Report

Local land conservation organizations will host a Conservation Day-Camp June 20-24 at the Nygren Wetland Preserve west of Rockton, Ill. The camp runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day and offers hands-on educational opportunities in a natural setting to youngsters in grades seven through 10.

Greg Keilback of the Natural Land Institute said local groups will lead the activities. “The Rockford Park District will host Ecosystems of Northern Illinois followed by Discovering the Nygren Wetland Preserve by Paddle and Trail and Natural Land Institute. On subsequent days, there will be programs by Severson Dells Nature Center (Adventures in the Wetlands), by the Winnebago County Soil and Water Conservation District (Soil Ecology), by Nicholson Lawn and Garden (Tools of the Trade) and by Pheasants Forever (Conservation Ethics/Aldo Leopold),” Keilback said.

Don Miller, executive director at Severson Dells Nature Center, said his organization is participating in the Conservation Camp because hands-on nature education has been the group’s goal for more than 30 years. “We at Severson Dells know that hands-on experiences and spending time in the outdoors gives one a healthier life both physically and mentally, gives meaning to one’s life and instills a sense of place in the community,” Miller said.

The Nygren Wetland Preserve is about a mile west of the Village of Rockton. The Natural Land Institute purchased the 720-acre wildlife sanctuary 10 years ago and has largely restored the site to its native site—100 acres of prairie, 150 acres of woodland and 450 acres of wetlands. Among the many bird and animal species that have returned to the preserve are sandhill cranes, river otters and Blandings’ turtles.

Cost of the camp is $150 per child. To reduce the cost by $50, youngsters are encouraged to submit an essay about conservation and how it has impacted their life. Essay must be submitted before camp starts. For information, contact the Natural Land Institute at (815) 964-6666.

From the June 8-14, 2011 issue

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