It probably doesn’t surprise you to hear that Evanston has been focusing on environmental issues long before they were mainstream.
The Evanston Ecology Center opened in 1974 on the grounds of the Ladd Arboretum to be used as place to teach environmental education and promote volunteerism for environmental causes. Owned by the city of Evanston, the center’s mission has been to promote a greater appreciation, awareness and knowledge of the environment, and it has done that over the years through introductory natural history classes and popular summer camps for kids. Having a natural preserve in the city was also a motivation for developers of the facility.
The non-profitEvanston Environmental Association was founded in 1976 to support the mission of the center and the Ladd Arboretum, and that remains the primary focus of the organization today.
“We are an organization that supports the programs of the Evanston Ecology Center,” said Rick Nelson, president of the EEA. “The Ecology Center needs volunteers on an ongoing basis, in areas such as the care of indoor animal habitats, assisting in the center's educational programs, maintenance tasks, and many more areas.”
The center offers many programs, both onsite and off, including fourcommunity gardens, summer camps, canoeing trips on the North Shore Channel, environmental programming at Light House Park, and free “access to fishing” youth programs.
Youth education has always been a big part of the EEC’s mission, and its summer camp programs for kids age 3 to 11 continue to draw a huge interest. Additional one-time programs for teens and families are available as well. There are also outreach programs available for schools and the boy and girl scouts.
To help fund the programs, the Evanston Environmental Association has several signature events throughout the year. The annualGarden Walk, this year on June 28, features a showcase of eight private gardens along with a public school garden that was designated a Schoolyard Habitat Site by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The 4th AnnualGreen Ball will be held on May 29, and features food, drinks, live music and a way to get to know more of the volunteers in the organization.
Finally, the Green Living Festival on Sept. 13 serves as more of an outreach program, bringing together businesses and non-profits to share ideas, products and services to help promote environmental causes. But it’s also a festival, with food, music, storytellers and kids activities.
For anyone looking to make a difference, the Evanston Environmental Association is always looking for help in spreading the message of living a green life.
“We are looking for people who can help in the planning and execution of events,” Nelson said. “We sometimes are looking for event volunteers with specific skills, but many times just need someone to take a task and execute it.”
Whether you’re looking to pick up some new skills—or pass those onto others—the Evanston Environmental Association is a great organization for those with an interest in making the city greener.