We love our oaks. They provide shade in the summer, acorns for wildlife in the fall, and enhance the natural beauty of the area, even in winter, with their gnarled, expansive branches. Oaks also offer habitat for a larger diversity of insects than any other species of tree, which translates directly into a higher diversity of birds that eat those bugs!
However, these beloved trees are under stress, and if nothing changes, they may be largely gone from the local landscape within 20 years. But, as a community, we can take action to ensure these majestic, sacred witnesses to our history will grace the landscape for generations to come.
Here are just some of the many ways you can help local oaks:
Become an Oak Keeper
Oak Keepers are a special group – they have the skills and motivation to take care of the local oak woods. You can be an Oak Keeper too! Each Spring, TLC offers a series of workshops that are open to anyone with an interest in oaks and their preservation/proliferation. You learn a variety of skills from a series of up to five different workshops throughout the year. After completing five courses you will earn a variety of benefits.
Read about Oak Keepers through the years
Whether planted in your yard or at a public park, planting oaks is one of the best things you can do for the local environment. Click on the links below to learn more about some of the opportunities for planting oaks in McHenry County:
Volunteer to help at a Community Oak Planting event
Nominate a property for a future Oak Planting event
Plant a Memorial or Celebration Oak to recognize a loved one or special occasion with the gift of an oak
Purchase locally grown oaks and native shrubs through TLC’s Spring & Fall Oak Sale
Each fall, TLC promotes an “Acorn Roundup,” where we ask individuals to gather acorns from under local oak trees and bring them to TLC’s office so the acorns can be grown into trees. TLC takes the acorns to a local nursery that raises them for TLC to use at community oak planting events and as Memorial/Celebration oaks. At any given time, there are thousands of oaks of various ages, species and sizes growing for future plantings. Click here for the Acorn Roundup Instructions.
Restore Oak Woodlands
– Oak Rescues
– Restoration Work Days
Nominate someone for TLC’s Living with Oaks Award
The awards program recognizes individuals and organizations that go above and beyond to take care of the local oaks. Awards are presented at TLC’s Annual Meeting in January each year. Recipients of Living with Trees Awards have ranged from individual landowners to municipalities and volunteers.
Donate to the Third Generation Oak Fund
To help ensure that there will be the financial resources to support oak conservation efforts in the county long-term, a dedicated fund was created in 2008 and donations for the project were placed into it. Additionally, income from the sale of Memorial/Celebration oaks as well as the Oak Sale is placed into the fund.
Learn more about TLC’s Oak Conservation efforts here. The program is called Project Quercus® (Quercus = \Kwer’kus\, n. [Latin], an Oak), and it was started in 2006 to help inspire people to take action to save the oaks!