Message from our President and CEO

The first quarter of 2022 has been a time of significant personal loss for our staff and board members. Many of us have lost a loved one recently or had/have a loved one with a severe illness, and many of you are experiencing similar grief and loss. Recently in a moment of pause, I reflected on a conversation I had early in my tenure as CEO of HLC. I attended the annual Prairie State Conservation Coalition (PSCC) conference for the first time. There, I connected with a colleague experiencing grief and loss himself. As he explained his story, he ended with action and strength: 

He said, “Do you know what I do in times like this? I plant a tree. I plant lots of trees.“

My colleague inspired me with his strength and method of healing. That’s why we started a Tribute Tree Grove at the Exploration Garden at Clinton Hills Conservation Park. Last year, many people purchased a tree to honor someone or celebrate an event, and we planted those trees in the Tribute Grove. When I visited the grove this past fall, baby oak trees had sprouted around the tribute trees, forming a support network. (see photo). As I stood there, I couldn’t help but feel the positive energy and love coming from the Tribute Grove. I highly recommend visiting the grove to see if you feel this energy, too. (We will soon put up the sign honoring the tributes in the grove, and we may locate some of the saplings to other parts of the garden). 


From Earth Day to Arbor Day, we will celebrate our third annual Tree Week, with a week full of events, tree planting, and celebrations of all things trees. 

Right now, our native plant sale is taking orders through our website. Get your order in by April 14, 2022, and pick it up at Clinton Hills Conservation Park in Swansea on April 30. We have a variety of flowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees to choose from that support native wildlife and look great in your landscaping. See page 26 for more information.

Audrey Hepburn once said,  “To plant a tree is to believe in tomorrow.” As we collectively recover and heal from the last few years, we, too, are planting lots of trees. We invite you to believe in tomorrow with us.

See you outside,

Mary Vandevord

President & CEO