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Seeds, Butterflies and Trees – CLIP Week 4!

Published on
13 July 2023

by Jenn Hernandez

To start off week 4 of CLIP, Monday didn’t exactly go as planned due to rain forecasted later in the day. Sadly, we couldn’t spray the turf grass with roundup at Apple Creek to make way for native plants to thrive. However, we didn’t let the weather get us down! We paid a visit to the brown-eyed susans that we planted back in Week 2 for our CLIP research project. We jotted down notes in our journals about our observations so far – the size of the sprouts, their density and the number of leaves they sprouted. One thing that caught our attention was that the control group seemed to be growing more quickly than the others.

Spreading seed

Later, we left Hennen for Remington Grove, armed with our seed mix, ready to scatter. We sprinkled native seeds all over the easement, which sadly had been graded and planted with turf grass during the construction in the area. We learned that it is important to get a thorough and even spread of seed. After we worked diligently, we changed course to tackle some pesky invasive bird’s foot trefoil. But that wasn’t all! We couldn’t resist exploring the nearby beaver dam, which was an interesting sight. To end, we headed back to Hennen to collect samples of woody species on the property.

Tuesday’s weather threw us for a spin as well, with smoke coming down from Canadian wildfires, leaving us with a soft cover of haze and an air quality warning for the week. In the morning we brushed up on our list of butterfly species, then we met with Pete Jackson and the Environmental Defenders interns at Boloria Meadows to learn about butterfly monitoring. We saw a bunch of different butterflies, even up close! The best part was not only the butterflies, but the breathtaking native pollinators in bloom at Boloria, butterfly weed being my favorite.

Butterfly monitoring at Boloria Meadows

Back at Hennen, the Clipsters worked on developing a lesson plan for the Youth and Family Center kids to do at Boloria in the following month. We had fun brainstorming activities to do!

Wednesday started off with putting up boundary signs at Spring Ridge and Country Ridge. We split off into teams to get things done faster, with one person each in charge of a task. This helped us freshen up on our ArcGIS skills, using our map as a guide and adding points where we put signs along the way.

Ready to install conservation easement boundary signs

After lunch we headed to McHenry County College to meet with Emily Zack to learn about their sustainable agriculture department. We started off with making a propagation planter by taking clippings from plants in the greenhouse and arranging them in a planter filled with perlite. We then learned about their sustainable growing methods and looked at their multiple greenhouses. They showed us their neat wire trellis system they use to grow apple trees, grapevines, and raspberries to a desired height and shape. They also stressed the importance of crop rotation in small-scale farming, to prevent pests, disease, and increase soil health. After, we walked around the science building to learn about their impressive native landscaping then headed back in and continued working on our propagations. I think we had a little too much fun looking at all the plants, but sadly we had to head off to Hennen, but with cool MCC goodie bags in hand, thanks to Emily!

On Thursday we had an early start and continued our invasive Parsnip pulling at Gateway from last week. Armed with our Parsnip predators, the CLIP team tackled most of the remaining Parsnips. At lunch we had the pleasure to meet with certified arborists, Shawn Kingzette and Maggie Volchko from Davey. They taught us about pests and diseases that affect trees and gave us helpful insight into their career. After our informative lunch, we finished off the rest of the day with more parsnip pulling.

Learning from the arborists at Davey Tree Co.


Friday we arrived early at Hennen again, prepared for a hot day at Irish oaks pulling the infamous invasive Parsnip. Irish Oaks was sparse compared to Gateway, thanks to last year’s efforts. Although sparse, we put in a lot of work tackling those invasives, making sure to stay hydrated through it all. After a long battle with parsnips we took a little break to collect some seeds. After lunch we steered back to Hennen and worked on catching up on our journals and checking in on our plants!

Although there was some unfavorable weather this week, the Clipsters stuck it out and improvised. We learned and improved a variety of skills and information from this activity-packed week. With CLIP’s well-rounded program, we have learned so extensively already and feel more confident in our skills. I am excited to see how much more we grow as young environmentalists throughout the summer!