“If you put too much stuff out there that is real kitschy and corny, you are not going to get the message across,” Debbi says.
The Go Green!” Earth Day celebration will take place on April 17 from noon to 4 p.m. at Fullersburg Woods, 3609 Spring Road in Oak Brook. The event has been carefully planned to both inspire a long-term commitment to environmental sustainability and keep DuPage County families returning to use their forest preserve more frequently.
“We’re trying to do things that make everyone want to come back,” says Debbi.
“We try not to be too preachy about it.”
The free event will be aimed at visitors of all ages and include a wide variety of activities. Participants can try their hand at geocaching, a GPS-guided treasure hunt through the woods, and take in presentations on organic farming and eco-friendly crafts. But Debbi says that one particular activity stands out as a favorite for many kids.
“The one thing that we can’t seem to get away from every year is having our forestry crews come out and set up their equipment so kids can climb the trees,” Debbi says. “The kids don’t go up very far, but it’s usually far enough to make them happy.”
The event will be programmed with a number of sponsors, including the United States Coast Guard. “We ask each of them to bring something that gets the message across,” says Debbi.
About four or five years ago, after Debbi and her staff were planning Earth Day activities, they found themselves asking just how “green” they were actually planning on being. “We had been gluing and coloring all kinds of things, and we started asking ourselves whether we were just making more stuff that was going to end up in the trash,” Debbi says.
The next year, they opted instead to show young visitors how to make bookmarks themed with conservation messages. The bookmarks would likely be used again, not to mention reminding kids about the environment each time they cracked open their books.
The revisions to the event are part of an overall aim of keeping Fullersburg Woods fresh and relevant for visitors. “If we just threw picnic tables out on our deck, for example, this would look like every other forest preserve,” Debbi says. “But instead we have these wonderful Adirondack chairs out there, and they’re made from recycled milk jugs.”
“If we want to change the look out there, we can just move those around,” she adds, also noting that the center is equipped with Wi-Fi.
Fullersburg Woods gets around 200,000 visitors a year, according to Debbi, and she and her staff remain committed to getting as many residents out as possible to enjoy their retreat.
“The whole idea is, ‘Let’s just get people out here,’” Debbi says. “Even if you stop at Starbucks and get a cup of coffee first, this is a great place to de-stress—your whole sense of well-being is transformed when you come out here.”