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TLC’s Project Quercus Inspires Families to Plant Oaks in McHenry County

Published on
30 June 2023

Quercus: (Latin) oak or oak tree

 An early-morning rain May 13 threatens plans to plant oaks at Moraine Hills State Park in McHenry. Jacob Shurpit, park superintendent, departs early to check the ground at the planting site. Luckily, the earth is dry enough and the planting can proceed as planned.

Jacob Shurpit and his son plant an oak tree.

Students and parents from Landmark Elementary School in McHenry, The Land Conservancy of McHenry County and Moraine Hills State Park staff gather as the lazy drizzle diminishes and the skies clear.

After greetings and smiles, this hard-working team of tree planters is ready to get to work. TLC’s Oak Conservation Outreach Specialist, Dave Zeiger, gives a brief planting demonstration. There are tools, post hammers, posts, water jugs, fencing and mulch to transport to the field. The crew’s motion, excited chatter and energy expands throughout the field.

Planting oaks is both hard work and a joyful, enriching experience.

This is the fourth planting Landmark School has participated in at Moraine Hills. Today, 10 families are here to plant trees. The youngest planter is five-year-old Arlo Gurak. The oldest student planter is in eighth grade and a Landmark alumnus.

Once the trees are nestled safely in the ground, the children name the trees they have planted. Each child inscribes a creative name onto a metal tag to be placed on the post.

Tiffany Gurak, a Landmark School parent and coordinator of this tree planting, emphasizes that  service projects to give back to the community are important to their school, and that they value their relationship with TLC.

Tiffany Gurak and her son Arlo help ensure that there will be oaks in McHenry County for years to come.

Landmark Elementary began planting with TLC in the spring of 2016. The school has planted oaks at other McHenry County sites with eight plantings altogether, totaling around 90 trees added to our local landscape!

Tiffany says, “It’s important to model volunteering our time to causes that are important to us so that our children see volunteer work as important as well. They leave feeling really accomplished and excited for the next opportunity to give back.”

After the day’s planting is complete, there is already talk about next spring. Jacob points to the east, indicating the next area for oaks to be planted.

The union of Landmark Elementary School, Moraine Hills State Park and TLC is looking into the near future, ready to plant more trees. These oak trees will grow and mature in the distant future, enriching the beauty and health of the land, becoming the future Mighty Oaks of McHenry County!

TLC would like to give a big thank-you to the Landmark families and to Superintendent Jacob and his family. We continue to be a team that creates something beautiful each spring.

TLC is always looking for public sites for oak plantings. If you know of a public area in need of some oaks, please contact Dave Zeiger at [email protected]. Also, feel free to contact Dave if you know of a group or school that would like to plant trees.

Some of the families that planted oaks on May 13.