ECC sustains green efforts with passion for native plants (Sun-Times Media)

by Emily McFarlan Miller

ELGIN — Gardening is one of Harriet Happel’s passions.

Happel — office coordinator for Elgin Community College’s division of Sustainability, Safety & Career Technologies — plants native vegetation that will attract the birds and bees to her home, she said. She plants river birch and pussy willow in the flood area in her backyard, plants that absorb water without altering the environment.

“I think part of it is getting that connection with things after everything we do all day that’s artificial,” she said.

Happel was one of about two dozen Elgin Community College students, staff and faculty who connected Thursday with the Kane County Forest Preserve District to plant native vegetation near the wetlands on campus at Spartan and Renner drives.

That’s part of the forest preserve district’s Prairie at Home program and part of the community college’s goal to create a more sustainable campus.

Volunteers chipped spades and struggled with an auger Thursday in the hard-packed dirt — a result of the recent hot, dry weather in the Elgin area — to put in more than 500 plants native to northern Illinois. Some familiar plants include coneflower, bee balm, coreopsis and wild quinine, according to Robb Cleave, volunteer coordinator for the forest district.

“A lot of them are really showy, so it’ll be a nice aesthetic addition to the campus,” Cleave said.

For the rest of the story, read ECC sustains green efforts with passion for native plants (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.