Outdoor America 2019 Issue 4
Illinois >> When you do great conservation work in the community, the term “nerd” is a badge of honor. So is the award the Izaak Walton League’s Illinois Division gave the Ellis Middle School Science Club (aka the NERDS).
Members of the Elgin Chapter nominated the NERDS for the state award in recognition of the many ways this volunteer student group has helped the chapter and the Elgin community.
The NERDS club was created by seventh-grade students at Ellis Middle School and is guided by science teacher Holly Yee. The acronym stands for “Nature Environmental Recycling Defenders Squad.” And like the name, this group of students does it all.
The students supplied the manpower for the Elgin Chapter’s first biannual cleanup along a section of the Fox River, and later did the same for Willow Creek, which meanders through the east side of Elgin, says chapter officer Roger Dieringer. “These students hauled trash from the creek beds, getting dirty and not complaining. The club also helps our chapter wet and wrap tree roots of white pine and oaks every year (150 of each tree this year) for our annual Arbor Day tree donation. This job is very messy, and the students have always done an outstanding job.”
The NERDS played a major role in establishing Trillium Park, located just a short distance from Ellis Middle School, says Dieringer. “In 2012, the students went to the Elgin City Council with an idea of making this unused city area into a park. They presented a plan for laying out the park with native plantings and a hiking trail.” Members of the Elgin Chapter coordinated a cleanup effort to prepare the area for the new park. The city of Elgin named the revitalized area Trillium Park – the name suggested by the middle schoolers. The Elgin Chapter added the park to its semi-annual cleanup calendar to keep the park a healthy community resource, and the NERDS have continued to work to maintain and improve the park.
Congratulations to these dedicated middle-school “nerds” for a job well done!