Leslie Shad, left, Joel Freeman, center, and Tony Rothschild finish planting an oak tree in the north lawn of Evanston Township High School on May 3. (RoundTable photo)

Volunteers Plant 11 Native Trees at ETHS

Leslie Shad keeps her eye out for trees. The founder and co-leader of Natural Habitat Evanston, not only does she help watch over Evanston’s trees, she looks for ways to bring more trees to the community.

A grant of $1,000 from Iowa-based Treesforever.org required a match in labor, not in funds. On May 3, about 15 volunteers brought their gloves and shovels to the north side of Evanston Township High School to plant 11 trees: pecan, Kentucky coffee, American hornbeam, sour gum, white oak, swamp white oak, pin oak, bur oak, and red oak – all native species.

From left, Joel Freeman, ETHS teacher Ellen Fierer, ETHs student Libby Quarl, Betsy Quarl, and Laury Lewis prepare to plant a tree in the southeast part of the front lawn at ETHS. (RoundTable photo)

Beginning just east of the tennis courts along Church Street, members of the grounds crew at ETHS dug the holes, avoiding underground lines and spacing the holes far enough apart that the mature trees would not tangle roots. In smaller groups, the volunteers enlarged the hole a bit, settled in the tree, and finished the task by leveling the area with mulch and dirt.

“Oaks are the dominant canopy in the State of Illinois,” said Allison Sloan, “but since the 1830s, Illinois has lost 83% of the oak canopy.” Wood from white oaks has been used widely for building, she said.

Ms. Shad purchased the trees from Possibility Place Nursery in Monee. “They grow their trees in sacks, which encourages root growth,” said Ms. Sloan, comparing them to trees often sold in plastic buckets with roots curled around each other.

From left, Gwen Casey, Norma Green, Allison Sloan, and Soraya Sloan remove the tree from the bag where it had been growing before planting it in the lawn. (RoundTable photo)

Ms. Shad said Natural Habitat representatives plan to attend local meetings, such as Ward meetings, to listen to community members and encourage them to plant trees. “Planting more trees is very important for the whole community,” she said.  

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...