Sustainability and Stewardship

Get Involved!

Each of us plays a role in creating a more sustainable world. If you are interested in engaging more deeply with other students who care about environmental and social responsibility, check out these student-led clubs!

If you are interested in spending time in the natural areas on campus as a restoration volunteer, seeking a fun, educational nature/wellness experience for your class, group, or school, or simply have any questions related to our natural spaces, reach out to our naturalist, Amanda Krause. She believes that nature is for everyone and is happy to work with anyone who is willing to help, regardless of experience.

Do you have ideas for how we can be more sustainable in our practices? We welcome ideas and suggestions through our Sustainability Suggestion Box at the bottom of this page.

Oakton’s Natural Areas

Oakton is home to over 100 acres of natural areas, most of which are increasingly rare virgin remnant ecosystems. These special areas are living museums which allow us to step back in time to how Chicagoland looked pre-European colonization.

Our Des Plaines campus is nestled between the Des Plaines River to the west, and award-winning Forest Preserves of Cook County on all other sides. By preserving our native ecosystems, we provide critical pathways connecting the FPCC lands together to increase biodiversity and prevent extinctions.

Our Skokie campus is a prime example of how to convert typical suburban landscapes into vibrant wildlife gardens full of birds and butterflies. In addition to increasingly replacing resource-draining lawns with low-maintenance native plants, our Grounds in Skokie provide areas for Community Gardens and a Community Apiary.

At both campuses, we are delighted to work with students, staff, faculty, and the community at large to experience the abundant benefits of Nature. Our rare and wonderful natural resources include:

  • Over 400 species of plants, shrubs, and trees
  • Hundreds of species of native mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians
  • A huge diversity of insects, including native bees, butterflies, and other pollinators
  • Hundreds of species of migratory songbirds passing through along the Des Plaines River Corridor
  • High-quality Northern Flatwoods forest wetland ecosystem
  • Diverse and bountiful oak and hickory woodland ecosystem
  • Reconstructed tallgrass prairies and wetlands
  • A historic sugar maple grove in which we continue a thousand year tradition of tapping trees to produce maple syrup

Sustainability Center

Oakton is committed to being “green.” From its buildings and grounds to eco-friendly events and green management practices, the College works to preserve and protect natural resources and the planet. Sustainable practices and behaviors are designed to meet current needs without compromising those of future generations. As the College's 2013-2017 strategic plan Connecting What Matters (PDF) (387 KB) notes, "Green initiatives have made sustainability a priority in a wide range of institutional practices, academic offerings, and in the use of the grounds and internal environment.”

Recent Sustainability Successes

Solar Array on the Skokie Campus (Coming Soon!!)
Electric vehicle charging and green parking
College Leadership and Sustainability Award, IGEN
Ban the bottle initiative and new hydration stations
Increased waste diversion
Go Green Video
Science and Health Careers Center, LEED Gold Certification
Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact
Science and Health Careers Center
Photovoltaic array
Prairie restoration efforts
2014 Waste Stream Study
Near-zero waste events
Outdoor classrooms
Launch of sustainability Facebook page and blog
Creation of a sustainability specialist staff position

Stewardship for the Future

At Oakton, we are committed to fostering stewardship through ecological restoration: the process of reversing human-imposed damage to a natural landscape and helping it to recover. We use a variety of scientifically proven methods to restore ecosystems that include invasive plant removal, prescribed burns, collecting native plant seeds, planting native plants, and monitoring wildlife.