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Earth Day in the Parks

Listen to the podcast of this information.
"I feel like I am really making a difference."  2013 Student participant at Beall Woods State Park
"Thank you for giving us this opportunity! Many of the kids had their eyes opened to an
entire ecosystem that they had no idea existed in Illinois. I hope we can do it again next year!"
 Teacher, 2014 event at Cache River State Natural Area
"We had such a wonderful time!! The students could not stop
talking about how much fun they had and how great each station was.
We greatly appreciate being a part of Earth Day in the Parks!"
Teacher, 2014 event at IDNR Headquarters
View the results of some Earth Day in the Parks projects.
Video podcast of the 2015 Earth Day in
the Parks event at IDNR Headquarters in Springfield!
The 2019 list of participating state parks is shown below.
This information will be updated frequently so check the list often.
Last Update: November 13, 2018.

What is it?
Earth Day in the Parks is an event to promote stewardship of our natural resources by Illinois school children. During April and May, students and their teachers from throughout Illinois will come to participating Illinois state parks to take part in natural resources stewardship activities such as: planting native trees and wildflowers; building and installing nesting/roosting boxes; removing invasive exotic species; and building brush piles for wildlife. Students will be helping the environment and wildlife, participating in outdoor activities to increase their fitness and learning that their actions can make a difference in the world. Students are encouraged to return to the state park to see and study the results of their work. Some classes may want to perform additional volunteer work at the park.
Who sponsors this event?
Earth Day in the Parks is sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).
When is it?
Earth Day in the Parks is held in April and May. Dates vary by location. The table below shows the 2019 event information.
Can my class participate?
The IDNR Division of Education accepts applications from teachers who would like for their class to participate in the program. Only one application per teacher will be accepted. Do not include more than one teacher's class on the application form. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Applications for 2019 events will be accepted from January 1, 2019, through February 28, 2019. A winner will be drawn for each park and provided with additional information. PLEASE NOTE: Due to the nature of the projects that students will be working on, parks have grade-level and other restrictions for participants.
 What else should I know?
  • Classes will be at the park for approximately two hours.
  • Schools are responsible for their own transportation arrangements and transportation costs.
  • Each class will need to bring one adult per every five students attending the event.
  • Applications will only be accepted from schools registered with the Illinois State Board of Education.
  • Plants, tools and other equipment, materials and instructions will be provided.
  • A school administrator will be asked to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the school and the IDNR.


2020 application available approximately November 2019.


 2019 Participating Sites

Argyle Lake State Park, Colchester, plant native wildflowers and grasses, May 8, 2019 (a.m.), any of grades 4-12

Argyle Lake State Park, Colchester, plant native wildflowers and grasses, May 8, 2019 (p.m.), any of grades 4-12

Clinton Lake State Recreation Area, De Witt, plant native wildflowers and grasses, April 23, any of grades 4-12

Dickson Mounds Museum, Lewistown, plant native wildflowers, date May 1, any of grades 4-12

Fox Ridge State Park, Charleston​, planting butterfly gardens​, April 23, Grades 4 or 5

Kickapoo State Recreation Area​, Oakwood, invasive plant removal, April 24 (a.m.) Any of grades 9-12

Kickapoo State Recreation Area​, Oakwood, prairie plantings April 24 (p.m.) Any of grades 6-8

Lincoln Trail State Park, Marshall, planting native wildflowers, April 25, any of grades 4-12

Matthiessen State Park, Utica, install bluebird nesting boxes, April 18, Any of grades 3-5

Walnut Point State Park, Oakland, planting native wildflowers, April 24, any of grades 4-12

Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton, plant native wildflowers and grasses, April 22, any of grades 4-12