Dozens of area students helped round off Midewin’s Mighty Acorns program for the 2018-2019 school season this week at Turtle Pond.
At the USDA Forest Service – Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Mighty Acorns students learned about ponds, bird-watching and more. They learned how to plant native Illinois prairie plants.
Midewin volunteer Penny Vanderhyden taught students how to plant Then she showed the students how to give the new planting a little water to set it on its way for success.
Midewin volunteer Lee Witkowski shared his bird-watching knowledge with the students, where to look for grassland birds and the sounds they might hear and how to use binoculars.
Students practiced making bird sounds and they spotted a sandhill crane flying high above the northeast side of Turtle Pond.
Midewin runs its Mighty Acorns program for grades three to five. Activities in the fall focus on seed harvesting and insect studies; and in the spring the curriculum turns to bird watching, planting, pond studies and more. Each year, students are involved in a shared stewardship activity.
Several picnic tables at Turtle Pond make this spot a lovely place for picnics, group meetings and more. Midewin Public Services planted three new burr oak trees on the northeast side of the pond in 2018, and the public is enjoying seeing how they’ve grown.
The pond is accessible from the parking area at Hoff Road and Chicago Road. It is about a one-mile walk in and back to the site on a gravel road.
The Mighty Acorns program has been an essential part of Midewin Public Services for over 17 years. The purpose of the program, which is aimed at helping youngsters really get to know the ecosystem that surrounds them, aligns with goals of the USDA Forest Service – Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.
Students learn in a classroom setting and then experience a natural area, first-hand, close to their communities.
Midewin’s Mighty Acorns program is possible thanks to the involvement of many members of the award-winning Midewin Volunteer program. The Midewin volunteer program is managed by The Nature Conservancy in Illinois in a partnership agreement with the USDA Forest Service.
Midewin is one of several organizations that is involved with Mighty Acorns, which is a Chicago-area program. For more information, visit mightyacorns.org.