Suburban schools among 17 awarded Illinois grants to create wildlife habitat

To support the creation and enhancement of wildlife habitat like pollinator gardens, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has awarded grants totaling $15,700 to 17 schools, including Libertyville High School and Arbor View Elementary School, the department announced Friday.

Part of a state initiative called the Schoolyard Habitat Grant program, the funding is provided through donations to the Illinois Conservation Foundation.

The program benefits wildlife species while providing students and educators the opportunity to increase the use of native plants in local landscapes, IDNR Director Natalie Phelps Finnie said in a news release.

"By participating in these projects, students learn their efforts can make a positive difference in the world and they gain experience in problem-based learning through planning, developing and maintaining the habitat," Finnie said.

Since the program began over 10 years ago, the Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant has distributed nearly $360,000.

Projects funded in the most recent round of grants include developments in woodland habitat, pollinator gardens and birds and butterflies gardens.

Libertyville High School was awarded $1,000 for the enhancement of pollinator wetland. In Glen Ellyn, Arbor View Elementary School was given about $980 for the creation of a standard pollinator garden.

Congress Park Elementary School in Brookfield was awarded two $1,000 grants for a birds and butterflies pollinator garden as well as a standard pollinator garden.

"We want school children to learn about nature through hands-on experiences," Finnie added. "It's our goal to have Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program projects developed in every county of the state and eventually at every school. So far, we have supported projects in 86 of Illinois' counties."

Applications for the next round of the program will be accepted soon, the department said in a statement. The application deadline will be Nov. 30. More information can be found at

• Jenny Whidden is a climate change and environment writer working with the Daily Herald through a partnership with Report For America supported by The Nature Conservancy. To help support her work with a tax-deductible donation, see

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