Utility Links


Earth Day in the Parks

"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.
the Parks event at IDNR Headquarters in Springfield!
The 2021 list of participating state parks is shown below.
Last Update: November 19, 2020.

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).
A special "Thank You!" to the
for sponsoring the 2021 Earth Day in the Parks events!
When is it?
Earth Day in the Parks is held in April and May. Dates vary by location. The table below shows the 2021 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 2021 events will be accepted from January 1, 2021, through February 28, 2021. 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.

2021 Earth Day in the Parks Application

 2021 Participating Sites

Clark County - Lincoln Trail State Park, Marshall
Date: April 21, 2021
Project: installing a vernal pod and planting native prairie plants
Grades: grade 9 – Their parents are also invited to take part, if the school is willing to allow them to participate.

Coles County - Fox Ridge State Park, Charleston
Date: April 22, 2021
Project: plant a pollinator garden
Grade: 5

Coles County - Walnut Point State Park, Oakland
Date: any day during the week of April 19, 2021, preferred but will be flexible for other dates
Project: planting a pollinator patch
Grades: any of grades 4-12

Johnson County – Cache River State Natural Area, Cypress
Date: April 22 or 23, 2021
Project: remove invasive, exotic garlic mustard plants
Grades: Any of grades 4-12

Johnson County – Cache River State Natural Area, Cypress
Date: April 15 or 16, 2021
Project: planting native prairie plants
Grades: Any of grades 5-12

Johnson County – Cache River State Natural Area, Cypress
Date: April 29 or 30, 2021
Project: remove a thicket of tree saplings (less than one inch in diameter) and convert them to brush piles for wildlife
Grades: Any of grades 5-12

La Salle County – Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks, Utica
Date: April 15, 2021
Project: installing eastern bluebird nesting boxes and planting native prairie plants
Grades: Any of grades 3-5

Lawrence County – Red Hills State Park, Sumner
Date: specific date to be determined with winning applicant: April 2021, Monday through Friday
Project: planting a pollinator garden
Grades: any of grades 6-8

Vermilion County – Kickapoo State Recreation Area, Oakwood
Date: late April/early May
Project: removing exotic, invasive bush honeysuckle plants
Grades: Any of grades 6-12

Will County – Illinois State Museum, Lockport Gallery, Lockport
Date: TBD
Project: TBD
Grades: TBD