Oakton & Village of Skokie Celebrate Earth Month With Tree Planting Initiative

(L-R): Martin Espinoza, Skokie Park District horticulture crew member, and Hannah Kosiek, Skokie Park District geographic information systems coordinator (GIS) and arborist, planted one of the bur oaks.

The event kicked off the Skokie Roots for Trees campaign, which aims to increase tree canopy in the Village

Skokie, Ill. (April 18, 2024) - Oakton, Village of Skokie and Skokie Park District leaders joined community members to celebrate Earth Month by planting trees on the College's Skokie campus, April 18. The event kicked off the Skokie Roots for Trees campaign, which aims to increase tree canopy in the Village. Skokie received a $327,000 grant from the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program through the Inflation Reduction Act to support the initiative.

“Oakton’s Skokie campus is a great example of how to incorporate native plants into suburban landscapes,” said Amanda Krause, Oakton’s naturalist. “Not only are native plants low-maintenance, but they fill the area with vibrant butterflies, birds and other pollinators that may otherwise struggle to find much to eat in the suburbs.”

Oakton’s current landscape master plan goals include adding trees and other native species to the campus. The generous contribution from the Village will accelerate the College’s environmental sustainability efforts.

The Skokie Roots for Trees campaign will bring more than 20 trees to the College’s Skokie campus. The grant, secured with support from the Village’s Beautification & Improvement Commission, will allow the Village to plant 450 free trees on non-Village-owned properties over five years.

“The Village of Skokie is pleased to partner with Oakton College to increase canopy coverage on campus as part of the Skokie Roots for Trees initiative,” said Cathy Stevens, Village forester. “Trees provide innumerable environmental and community health benefits, and will enhance quality of life for students, residents and Skokie visitors.”

The two bur oaks planted on the campus’ north side (Quercus macrocarpa) were grown from acorns sourced in Evanston and are well adapted to the Chicagoland climate. The trees will anchor new garden beds full of native wildflowers, planted in a continued effort to replace turf grass with native plants. The gardens will help feed the honey bees that live in the on-campus community apiary, which was established through a partnership between the Village of Skokie and Oakton.

In addition to the two bur oaks, the Village plans to add a mixture of oaks and hickories to Oakton’s campus. The oaks are not only harmonious with the Oakton campus aesthetic, given the oak leaf's presence in the Oakton logo, but they are also native to the area and an excellent food source for many local insects and animals. Known as “the megamarts of the tree world,” oaks can feed over 700 different wildlife species compared to other tree species that feed between 50-200.

Oakton, with campuses in Des Plaines and Skokie, has emerged as an environmental education and sustainability leader. Oakton’s Environmental Studies Concentration curriculum equips students to tackle intricate environmental challenges on both local and global scales. For more information about Oakton College’s Environmental Studies Concentration and sustainability efforts, visit Oakton.edu.