While Oakton Community College fosters student success and academic excellence through its course offerings and training programs, we also strive to make a positive impact on the natural world around us and serve as a leader for sustainability in our communities. We are excited to announce that Oakton’s Des Plaines campus is now a Certified Wildlife Habitat! Our careful planning, support of natural ecosystems, restoration of prairie spaces and use of native species in landscaping has helped us achieve this certification through the National Wildlife Federation.
Roughly 46,000 students and 700 faculty/staff call Oakton home for at least part of their academic and/or professional pursuits. But our campuses are also home to a variety of other inhabitants who may not be as readily noticed. Sitting adjacent to Cook County Forest Preserves and Kloempken Prairie, Des Plaines campus is especially beneficial to a variety of wildlife and an important protector of valuable ecosystems in our community. Our campus is now recognized as for providing essential elements needed by all wildlife – natural food sources, clean water, cover and places to raise young. From native plants like asters, cardinal flowers, goldenrod, old oak trees, to the fallen logs holding a variety of fungal species to Lake Oakton itself, we have acres of usable habitat for animals–whether for permanent use or as a green stop along migration routes. The campus is home to dragonflies, monarch butterflies, squirrels, hawks, snakes, voles, frogs, deer, even hummingbirds (and that is only naming a few)! Next time you step foot on campus, take a second to enjoy the beautiful areas and think about how many other species are calling this place home!
“Providing a home for wildlife in our communities – whether it’s at home, or in schools businesses or parks – is the demonstration of a healthy and active eco-system. There is no more rewarding way to stay connected to nature right outside your door,” David Mizejewski, naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation.
NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program has been helping people take personal action on behalf of wildlife for more than 40 years. The program engages homeowners, businesses, schools, churches, parks and other institutions that want to make their communities wildlife friendly.
This new certified habitat joins NWF’s roll of more than 150,000 certified habitats nationwide. Wildlife habitats are important to year-round wildlife residents as well as species that migrate, such as some birds and butterflies. Each habitat is unique for both beauty and function.
More resources on this topic:
National Wildlife Federation, Campus Ecology: http://www.nwf.org/Campus-Ecology.aspx
Illinois Native Plant Society: http://www.ill-inps.org/
Illinois Master Gardeners (UIUC extension): https://web.extension.illinois.edu/mg/
Chicago Wilderness: http://www.chicagowilderness.org/
Chicago Botanic Garden’s Wildlife Habitat Series: http://www.chicagobotanic.org/education/certificate_programs/wildlife_habitat_series