Imagine fire pits at Mellody Farm Nature Preserve, flickering into the evening sky. Imagine live music, gourmet Mexican food from Inovasi of Lake Bluff, and delightful libations (tequila is involved). Then imagine the opportunity to learn more about the conservation efforts that Lake Forest Open Lands Association (LFOLA) and its Associate Board have been leading for more than 50 years.
More than 250 people are expected to attend LFOLA’s Cattails & Cocktails event on Friday, May 17. The fundraiser is being chaired by the Associate Board, led by Jennifer Coleman of Lake Forest, and promises live music and dancing, a raffle, and live auction to benefit the work that LFOLA has been doing for more than 50 years.
“As President of the Associate Board, we have the wonderful opportunity ever year to host Cattails & Cocktails. This year Jenny Coleman is the sole event chair, or the Cattails Commander as we call her, with the entire Associate Board acting as her other “co-chair,” explains Jim Dean. “Growing up in Lake Forest and being constantly drawn to the outdoors and nature, it was a natural progression for me to volunteer to help Lake Forest Open Lands’ mission.”
Proceeds from the event support programs that educate more than 3,000 children in each year. This unique event is open to the public, and is meant to highlight LFOLA’s conservation efforts at Mellody Farm. It’s also the only opportunity to bid on the lighting of the bonfire at LFOLA’s Bagpipes & Bonfire event in September.
“I got involved with this board as I grew up in Lake Forest and have always appreciated the outdoors,” says Coleman. “Now that I am a mom with two kids living in the community, I want to help them to explore and learn about all of our open lands.”
Leslie Davidson, development associate for LFOLA, says the event was started by the Associate Board six years ago as an outreach effort to raise awareness and get people onto the preserve—including those who may not have visited before.
“The next day we partner with the city for the plant and tree sale so it made sense to have them the same weekend and give attendees the opportunity to purchase items prior to the sale,” says Davidson, explaining that Mariani Landscape is the presenting sponsor.
Since 1967, LFOLA has remained an independently funded nonprofit conservation organization with a mission devoted to the acquisition and stewardship of natural landscapes, and to ensuring all generations have a meaningful, lasting connection to nature and our land. The organization is supported completely by voluntary contributions, including membership dues and donations, and its six preserves totaling 800 acres and 12 miles of walking trails are open to the public year-round.
Tickets to the event, which runs from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., are available online at lfola.org/cattails-cocktails. Mellody Farm Nature Preserve is located at 350 North Waukegan Road in Lake Forest.