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updated: 12/30/2013 4:16 PM

North Barrington School honored for conservation efforts

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  • Ciena Gilday admires a cardinal flower growing in the new rain garden habitat outside Montessori Children's House of North Barrington. The project recently was awarded The Barrington Area Conservation Trusts Conservation@School award.

      Ciena Gilday admires a cardinal flower growing in the new rain garden habitat outside Montessori Children's House of North Barrington. The project recently was awarded The Barrington Area Conservation Trusts Conservation@School award.
    Courtesy of Nicole Plenge-Gilday

 
 

Conservation projects no longer necessarily entail weekend treks to nature preserves with large groups of volunteers.

The Barrington Area Conservation Trust is showing people how to incorporate native plant species into the landscaping of their own homes, schools and businesses.

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Montessori Children's House of North Barrington recently became the first school in the Barrington area to receive the trust's Conservation@School award for applying the principles of native-species restoration and sustainability to its own grounds.

Part of the impetus was the deaths of the school's ash trees from the spread of the emerald ash borer. But the Montessori philosophy includes an emphasis on environmental health, which the conservation trust was able to provide its local expertise on, parent Nicole Plenge said.

Plenge obtained $1,600 in grants from various sources including the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the organization Wild Ones to create rain garden, prairie and woodland habitats outside the school. The project also aimed to attract bird and butterfly species that have lost much of their natural habitats in the region, she said.

The enhancements were intended to inspire the curiosity and enhance the educations of the kindergarten-age and younger student at the school, rather than simply providing a pretty environment for them.

"It's amazing what my daughter has learned," Plenge said. "It's amazing what they pick up."

And the parents and school staff who worked on the project can now apply their new knowledge to the landscaping of their own homes, Plenge added.

The conservation trust has used its Conservation@Home education program to improve the ecology of more than 200 acres in the area in 2013, Marketing Specialist April Anderson said. In the new year, the program hopes to reach more than 100 more homes through a grant from the Lake County Stormwater Commission.

As much environmental help as nature preserves provide, the Conservation@Home program is important because about 80 percent of the land in the Barrington area is privately owned, Anderson said. And Conservation@Work and Conservation@School provide similar assistance for businesses and educational institutions.

For more information about any of these programs, call the conservation trust at (847) 387-3149, email beth@bactrust.org or visit [URL]bactrust.org;http://www.bactrust.org/[URL].[/URL]

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