Work to establish Kuechmann Arboretum earns Lake Zurich, volunteer group a state award

  • Sally Henning of Lake Zurich walks a trail in Kuechmann Arboretum on the first day of spring in 2019.

    Sally Henning of Lake Zurich walks a trail in Kuechmann Arboretum on the first day of spring in 2019. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Updated 4/2/2021 6:19 PM

The effort made to turn Lake Zurich's little-used Kuechmann Park into a certified arboretum earned the village and a local volunteer group a Governor's Hometown Award.

In 2011, a village survey found that only about 3% of residents had even visited what was then known as Kuechmann Park, which is about 8 acres and is accessible off North Old Rand Road.


But some of the residents who knew about the park loved it. In the lead-up to the park's being officially accredited as an arboretum by an international organization in 2019, Ancient Oak Foundation volunteers spent more than 375 hours clearing invasive species from the area.

Village hall management intern Sam Reiss, who led the efforts to get the project recognized by the state, said the arboretum is a place that shows what teamwork between local government and nonprofits can achieve.

"The investments made by the village and Ancient Oaks volunteers has turned Kuechmann Arboretum into a true gem in the heart of Lake Zurich," Reiss said. "Most of all, it shows that no one should doubt what a few driven volunteers can achieve."

Judi Thode, the president of the Ancient Oaks Foundation volunteer group, said Ancient Oaks was delighted to be recognized as a partner on the arboretum project.

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"It would not have happened without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers," Thode said. "They have made our community a better place to live."

Since 1983, the Governor's Hometown Award​s program has recognized those who contributed to projects in Illinois that improved their community's quality of life.

There will be an online presentation at 1 p.m. April 20 to recognize all of the 2021 Governor's Hometown Award winners.

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