Celebrate Pollinator Week in McHenry County

Pollinator Week is celebrated June 17-23. Here in McHenry County, a coalition of groups is sponsoring six days of talks, walks, self-guided tours, celebrations and stewardship events — all connected to understanding the vital role that pollinators play in the ecosystem, economy, and agriculture, as well as how to cultivate a world where both nature and humanity thrive in harmony.

For a schedule of all the activities and registration, visit

Tuesday, June 18

McHenry County College, Environmental Defenders of McHenry County and Boone-Dutch Creeks Watershed Alliance are hosting a kickoff night on Tuesday, June 18, in the MCC Luecht Auditorium, 8900 Northwest Hwy. in Crystal Lake.

From 6:15 to 7 p.m., stop by the sponsors’ tables and enjoy light refreshments. Jack and Judy Speer of Small Waters Education will lead a talk on “Pollinators in the Neighborhood” at 7 p.m. Creating habitats for “the little things that run the world” in local communities is making it a more beautiful and healthy place to live. This presentation will explore how everyone can help the monarchs and other pollinators survive and thrive.

At 7:30 p.m., there will be a panel discussion by representatives of towns, townships and park districts that have taken the 2024 Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. It is hosted by the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County’s Water & Natural Resources Protection Action Team

Wednesday, June 19

Celebrate National Pollinator Week and learn how to attract monarch butterflies and other butterflies, birds, and bees to your yard. Join Sarah Michehl with The Land Conservancy of McHenry County for information on gardening with native plants that will provide beauty and everything a pollinator could need. The “Birds, Bees, and Butterflies: Plant Your Own Pollinator Garden!” presentation will be 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Johnsburg Library, 3000 N. Johnsburg Road. Registration is required at

• From 1 to 2:30 p.m., join the volunteers with Small Waters Education who keep the pollinator garden at Johnsburg Schools campus, 2220 W. Church St., healthy and get hands-on experience with native plants. No registration necessary, tools are provided. Contact if you have questions.

• Learn how to use native plants around your home to beautify your property, provide habitat for butterflies, birds and bees, and gain benefits such as improved stormwater drainage and healthy soil. “Native and Natural Landscaping” will be 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Prairieview Education Center, 2112 Behan Road in Crystal Lake. This presentation by members of the Wildflower Preservation and Propagation Committee will show examples from their “Native Garden in Your Yard” program, which provides inspiration, encouragement, and help to homeowners who wish to transform their traditional lawn and garden spaces into havens for native wildflowers and other plants. They also will touch on using native plants on a larger scale, such as restoration projects on McHenry County Conservation District sites. Register via

Thursday, June 20

Learn about local research on pollinators of the region during the virtual program, “Pollinators A Plenty” from 7 to 8 p.m. Two researchers will share their knowledge and interest of their research studies conducted locally, some right here in McHenry County. This will be held over Zoom. A link will be sent to registrants the day of the program.

Melissa Duda, a graduate student of the Plant Biology and Conservation program at Northwestern University/Chicago Botanic Garden, is studying the hybridization between Gentiana puberulenta and Gentiana andrewsii to identify the mechanisms responsible for limiting hybridization between the two species. One of these “mechanisms” is pollinators. She conducted pollinator observations to analyze the role of pollinators in hybridization. She wanted to see what pollinators (mostly bumble bees) visit both gentian species, as well as their hybrid, Gentiana x billingtonii. Additional pollinators she observed included leaf cutter bees, sweat bees, and masked bees.

Biologist Alma C. Schrage will discuss current research by the U.S. Geological Survey focused on the endangered rusty-patch bumblebee that is ongoing in McHenry County and the greater Midwest. She is part of a research team that has focused on developing effective rapid survey methods for finding rusty-patch bumblebees in previously unrecorded locations, detecting their DNA on flowers, and testing the rollout of larger scale rapid monitoring of bumblebee communities in partnership with McHenry County Conservation District and other partners in the Chicago region. Register via

Friday, June 21

Sign up for a “Restoration Day & Pollinator Patrol.” Learn how actions, powered by the community as part of MCCD’s stewardship/restoration volunteer program, are impacting pollinators in positive ways. It will be from 1 to 4 p.m. at Boone Creek Conservation Area, 916 N. Cold Springs Road, Bull Valley. It will wrap up with food, fellowship, and a Pollinator Patrol to observe the activity taking place on site. All ages and stages of experience are welcome. Visit to sign up to volunteer.

Spanning approximately 600 acres in McHenry County, Boone Creek Conservation Area is home to pollinators a plenty. The natural areas benefit greatly from a team of dedicated volunteers who are out on a regular basis, exploring what it means to care for the land and its inhabitants. Whether it’s removing invasive plants, collecting and spreading native plant seeds, monitoring plants and wildlife, or planting trees, all of these volunteer actions make a difference. It significantly improves habitats and the quality of life for butterflies, bees and other pollinator friends.

Watch for the Baltimore Checkerspot that uses the turtlehead flower as its host plant during the butterfly and pollinator walk at the Boloria Meadows Nature Preserve in Bull Valley on Saturday, June 22.

Saturday, June 22

Join a butterfly and pollinator walk at the Boloria Meadows Nature Preserve in Bull Valley from 10 to 11:30 a.m. It will be presented by Dennis Dreher, Pete Jackson and Brandie Dunn, volunteers with The Land Conservancy of McHenry County. Register via Space is limited to 30 people. Register by Thursday, June 20.

The preserve contains over 45 acres of high-quality restored wetlands, prairies, and oak woodlands. With over 150 species of wildflowers, Boloria is a haven for over 30 species of native butterflies as well as many species of bees and other pollinators. One unusual butterfly species that should be abundant in June is the Baltimore Checkerspot that uses the Turtlehead flower as its host plant.

This is a family friendly tour that will cover roughly a mile of gently rolling terrain. The preserve entrance is in the McAndrews Glen subdivision in Bull Valley. The subdivision is north of Bull Valley Road, west of Draper Road and east of Ridge Road. Street parking is available adjacent to 7219 and 7220 Millburne Court.

Sunday, June 23

Join a Pollinator Week Celebration from 1 to 4 p.m. at Lost Valley Visitor Center, 6705 Route 31, Ringwood. Did you know that along with bees and butterflies, beetles, moths, and flies are also pollinators to this region? Explore their life cycle, how they pollinate, and what you can do to support them now and into the future. Celebrate the last day of Pollinator Week with this family-friendly event with crafts, a guided nature hike, and games. Indoor and outdoor options available. Dress for the weather.

All week long

Join a self-guided tour of the monarch gardens in Marengo and Union, sponsored by Marengo-Union Mayors’ Monarch Pledge.

There’s also a self-guided tour of P.E.A.R.L. (Pocket Environments Animals Really Like) from yards to gardens to the 87-acre big PEARL of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge Turner Tract in Genoa City, Wis. It is sponsored by Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge.

Read more about Pollinator Week at

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