Awards & Honors

a group of people posing with an Emmy award at a Forest Preserves Board Meeting
Celebrating our documentary's Emmy® award at a Forest Preserves Board Meeting.

A select list of awards and honors presented to the Forest Preserves of Cook County and its employees, partners and collaborators.


2020

June Webb received the Outstanding Citizen Volunteer Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts for her dedication and commitment to restoring natural ecosystems at Kickapoo Woods and Whistler Woods. She has dedicated over 1200 hours to the Forest Preserves as a steward, trail watch volunteer, and dragonfly monitor.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County, Brushwood Center and Project Onward received the Arts in the Parks Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts for their collaboration on the Fresh Air exhibition showcasing artwork inspired by local nature.

Lorrie Ward received the Non-Formal Environmental Educator of the Year from the Environmental Education Association of Illinois which recognizes individuals for exhibiting innovative and exemplary effort in providing environmental education opportunities for general audiences.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Southeast Cook County Land Acquisition Plan received a Green Ribbon Award from the Friends of the Chicago River’s Chicago River Blue Awards recognizing river-sensitive projects for exceptional contributions to continuing the improvement of the waterway.

The Interpretive Trails at Deer Grove East and Killdeer Wetlands received a Merit Award from the Society for Experiential Graphic Design’s (SEGD) Global Design Competition in the Placemaking and Identity category. SEGD is an organization of global design professionals focused on teaching and highlighting the best of communication design in the built environment.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Southeast Cook County Land Acquisition Plan received the Healthy & Active Community Award from the Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association which recognizes the best in planning across Illinois.


2019

The Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Deer Grove West Wetland and Woodland Nature Preserve received a Platinum Accreditation from the Chicago Wilderness Excellence in Ecological Restoration Program. This important site features rich remnant oak woodlands and small wetlands dot the rolling and rugged terrain. More than 300 plant species have been recorded here.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County was selected at the 2019 Clean Fuels Champion by the Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition recognizing those who have demonstrated exemplary dedication and leadership in paving the way for a clean transportation future.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Six Nature Centers received the Sustainable Landscaping Award from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago for their native plantings, demonstration gardens, and outreach and programming around sustainable landscaping and native gardening.

John Navin received the Outstanding Citizen Volunteer Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts for his dedication and commitment to restoring natural ecosystems. John has volunteered over 20,000 as a steward at Poplar Creek Forest Preserve.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County received the Best in Green Practices Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts for its Sustainability and Climate Resiliency Plan, demonstrating its commitment to environmentally friendly policies and practices.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County and the Housing Authority of Cook County received the Intergovernmental Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts for their partnership and work together on the Conservation Corps’ Forest Preserve Experience Program.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County received the 2019 BusCon PERC Award from the Propane Education & Research Council for its work utilizing the clean fuel source propane for its vehicles and equipment.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Conservation Corps received a Force of Nature Award from the Chicago Wilderness alliance which highlights bold and exceptional work being done on behalf of nature in our region.

Flora of the Chicago Region by Laura Rericha and Gerould Wilhelm received a Force of Nature Award from the Chicago Wilderness alliance for the most complete record of vascular plants of the Chicago region. The Chicago Wilderness area is fortunate to have such a guide to the natural world.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County Website received a Gold Davey Award in the Government Websites category from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts.

Arnold Randall received the Agency Leadership Award from the Public Lands Alliance which recognizes a land management agency employee for outstanding accomplishments in championing, cultivating and leading a partnership.

The Greater Maywood Paddling Program received the Project Excellence Award from the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals at the National Outdoor Recreation Conference. The award is presented to exemplary outdoor recreation projects.

Friends of the Forest Preserves’ Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps received the Urban Forestry Award-Youth Engagement Award for the Chicago Region Trees Initiative. The Urban Forestry Awards recognizes people, public and private organizations, and communities that are leaders in protecting, expanding and enhancing the tree canopy in the Chicago Region.

The Greater Maywood Paddling Program received a Park and Recreation Program – Class II category Award from the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials for provided a unique and exceptional program.

Flora of the Chicago Region received the Award of Excellence in the category of Botany and Flora from the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries’ Annual Literature Awards which recognizes work that makes a significant contribution to the literature of botany or horticulture.

Jeff Nelson’s photo “Pick a good one” received the First Place in the Wildlife Category for the Illinois Association of Park District’s Give Us Your Best Shot Photo Contest. His photo captured a sandhill crane picking a berry with its beak at Crabtree Nature Center.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Nature Play Guidelines received a Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects in the Planning and Analysis category. The guidelines were written and designed to reflect the Forest Preserves’ mission and commitment to nature, children, creativity, fun, and learning. 


2018

The Conservation Corps received the Innovation in Conservation Award from the National Park and Recreation which recognize and honor the latest advancements in the field of parks and recreation and showcase the inspiring park and recreation agencies that have improved and empowered their communities through innovative practices in park design, health and wellness, environmental conservation, and social equity. The Conservation Corps was specifically recognized as a creative and original set of programs that created a localized solution to address regional environmental challenges.

The Field Museum and the Forest Preserves of Cook County received the Partnership Award from Illinois Association of Park Districts. The Field Museum and the Forest Preserves have been working together since the early 1990’s to conserve and restore the Chicago Wilderness region’s natural communities and provide programs and resources to connect people to nature.

Kris DaPra’s photo “Winter Reflection” received the First Place in the Nature/Landscape Category for the Illinois Association of Park District’s Give Us Your Best Shot Photo Contest. Her photo captured a beautiful winter scene at Busse Woods.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County received the Public Agency Conservation Award from the John Muir Association for outstanding achievement by a public agency that promotes environmental protection, or demonstrated significant achievement or leadership in the advancement of environmental protection or conservation

Mighty Acorns received the Environmental Education Award from the John Muir Association for outstanding to environmental education, whether in a classroom or otherwise.

Judy Pollock received the Leadership Award from Partners in Flight which honors an individual or group that demonstrates outstanding guidance and direction that contributes, or has contributed, to advancing PIF conservation efforts.  Judy was nominated by the Forest Preserves of Cook County for her organizing, innovating, and inspiring generations of bird conservationists in the Chicago Region. 

Forest Preserve Experience program via the Housing Authority of Cook County received an honorable mention in the Resident Service Large Agency Award category from the Nan Mckay & Associates Housing Awards.


2017

Arnold Randall received the Motorola Solutions Foundation Excellence in Public Service Award from the Civic Federation which honors a non-elected government employee who has made an extraordinary impact on the quality of government services in state and local governments.

Chicago’s True Nature: The Forest Preserves of Cook County – Documentary received an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties which seeks to recognize innovative county government programs.

Cal-Sag Trail received the Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning from the Metropolitan Planning Council which recognizes provocative and innovative planning.

Barbara Birmingham received a Best of the Best Outstanding Citizen Volunteer Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts for being an exceptional force for the Forest Preserves and tireless advocate for nature. Barbara has volunteered as a dedicated Site Steward at Theodore Stone Prairie, lovingly protecting and restoring this preserve.

Cook County Department of Public Health and the Forest Preserves of Cook County received the Best of the Best Intergovernmental Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts for their partnership to connect residents to the physical, emotional and mental benefits of spending time in nature.

The Poplar Creek Prairie Stewards and the Forest Preserves of Cook County received the Excellence in Ecological Restoration (Platinum Accreditation) from Chicago Wilderness for their habitat restoration and management of Shoe Factory Road Prairie Nature Preserve and Carl Hansen Preserve.

Arnold Randall received the Individual Service Award from the Society of Recreation Professionals which is presented to individuals who have made significant and lasting contributions to the outdoor recreation profession. Arnold was recognized for his remarkable sense of integrity, openness, leadership and enthusiasm for collaboration and for empowering staff, partners, and volunteers to work together to protect nature and improve outdoor recreation

Arnold Randall received the Outstanding Public Official Award from the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials for significantly contributing to recreation, leisure and open space programs in one of the largest urban conservation districts in the nation.

Bird the Preserves received the Marketing Award from the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials forits unique approach and exceptional outcomes. Bird the Preserves is an initiative that connects diverse communities to nature through expanded birding programs and events.

The Camping Leadership Immersion Course (CLIC) received the Park & Recreation Program – Class II Award from the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials for its innovative approach to connecting people to nature. CLIC is a weekend-long course for community group leaders to familiarize them with camping equipment, nature-based education and recreation activities, so that they have the knowledge and confidence to bring large groups camping in the preserves.


2016

Chicago’s True Nature: The Forest Preserves of Cook County – Documentary received an Emmy® award in Outstanding Achievement for Informational/Instructional Programming – Program/Special/Series from The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Chicago Midwest Chapter.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County received the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award from the Illinois Sustainability Technology Center honoring their commitment to sustainable business and operations.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County received the Best of the Best Green Practices Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts which is presented to a park district, forest preserve, conservation, recreation or special recreation agency that has taken the initiative to incorporate and encourage environmentally friendly business practices and policies.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County received the Take Pride in America Award from the Governor of the State of Illinois in recognition of outstanding volunteer efforts contributing to the stewardship and conservation for future generations of the natural and cultural resources that are integral to the Illinois public lands system.

Dick Riner received the Outstanding Volunteer Award from the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials in recognition of his significant contribution to the Forest Preserves’ volunteer community. His creativity, positive attitude and nuanced understanding of complex ecosystems have made him a natural leader in local restoration and outreach efforts.

Susan Dombro received the Non-Formal Environmental Educator of the Year from the Environmental Education Association of Illinois which recognizes individuals for exhibiting innovative and exemplary effort in providing environmental education opportunities for general audiences.

Cal-Sag Trail received the Green Ribbon Award from the Friends of the Chicago River Blue Awards Program because it set a new standard for river sensitive development and contribute to the ongoing transformation of this amazing natural, recreation and economic resource.

Henri Jordan received the Illinois Job Honor Award which recognizes those who have overcome significant challenges, and the companies who hire them.


2015

The Cal-Sag Coalition received the Best of the Best – Intergovernmental Cooperation Award from Illinois Association of Park Districts which recognizes successful intergovernmental agreements or partnerships that maximize tax dollars and benefit resident through the community. The Cal-Sag Trail Coalition represents the successful collaboration among federal, state, local and community organizations and individuals that has resulted in a 26 mile multi-use path from Lemont in the west to Burnham in the east.

Kathleen Garness received the Best of the Best – Outstanding Citizen Volunteer Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts which recognizes citizens’ volunteer efforts to enhance forest preserves, parklands and other open spaces. Kathleen was selected for her exceptional contributions to nature and conservation efforts on behalf of the Forest Preserves.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County received the Best of the Best – Anniversary Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts in recognition of the Forest Preserves’ Centennial and its reaffirmation to ensure that the forest preserves continue to protect natural diversity and provide the residents of Cook County with the many benefits that come from spending time in nature.

Joe Neumann received the Outstanding Volunteer Award from the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials which recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution of personal time and talent to a NACPRO member agency. Joe received the award for his continued support of the Forest Preserves’ mission and for sharing his skills and love of nature to build the next generation of conservation leaders.

It’s Cooler in the Forest received the Program Awards Class II Award from the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials for its innovative approach to introducing nature and outdoor recreation to new audiences. “It’s Cooler in the Forest” brings young people out to the Forest Preserves to experience both the educational and recreational opportunities available to them in the natural settings of Cook County.

Chris Anchor and Stan Gehrt received a 2015 Chicago Audubon Society Award for their work on the Urban Coyote Research Project. The award recognizes protectors of the environment.

Lake Cook Road Bike Path received a Merit Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies.

Lake Cook Road Bike Path received the Project of the Year Award from the American Public Works Association Suburban Branch which recognizes excellence in the management and administration of public works projects.

Forest Preserve District of Cook County – Volunteer Resources received an Urban Forestry Award from the Chicago Region Trees Initiative which recognizes landowners, land managers, and individuals who have gone above and beyond on behalf of the areas regional forest.


2014

Forest Preserve District of Cook County received thePublic Leadership Award from Active Transportation Alliance which honors Chicagoland’s leaders in bike commuting.

Toni Preckwinkle was honored by theSociety of Architectural Historians at the SAH 2014 Awards Gala for the Next Century Conservation Plan. The Society honors people who played key roles in conserving the Chicago area’s built and natural environments.

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County – Finance & Administration Department received the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for their Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for fiscal year ended 12/31/2013. The award is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and Thomas Jefferson Woods and Thatcher Woods received the Conservation & Native Landscaping Award from the U.S. EPA and Chicago Wilderness.

Somme Nature Preserve Restoration received the Conservation & Native Landscaping Award from the U.S. EPA and Chicago Wilderness.

Bartel Grasslands Restoration received the Conservation & Native Landscaping Award from the U.S. EPA and Chicago Wilderness.

Bluff Spring Fen received the Excellence in Ecological Restoration Award – Platinum Tier from the Chicago Wilderness Commission on Excellence in Ecological Restoration which recognizes high-quality restoration sites and excellent professional standards in natural resource management and ecological restoration. The award was received because the site and practitioners – Friends of BSF, volunteers, INPC, FPCC – recognized for demonstrated success with restoration of the site and the use of best practices for planning, implementation, and monitoring of restoration.

Camp Master Plan received the Urban Land Institute’s Vision Award which honors vision and creativity in lands use and development. The Plan was recognized for its high standard of excellence in design, economics, construction, marketing and management and for creatively solving complex land use challenges including the preservation of open space and is a visionary effort that will contribute to the growth and vibrancy of the communities of Cook County.

Next Century Conservation Plan Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning from the Metropolitan Planning Council which recognizes provocative and innovative planning. The award was received for the Plan being visionary in scope, scale and process and for its emphasis on community engagement and outreach, and its commitment to connecting residents with the natural world.

Gary Morrissey received theOutstanding Volunteer Award from the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials which recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution of personal time and talent to a NACPRO member agency. Award is limited to one per year. Gary received the award for being an invaluable asset to the Forest Preserves volunteer program and playing an important role in educating and inspiring youth.

Chicago Area Mountain Bikers received the Outstanding Support Organization Award from the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials which recognizes an organization that has responded in an exceptional manner by making a major contribution to benefit park and recreation programs or facilities.  CAMBr received the award for their outstanding contribution to trail improvements, cycling safety, and support of the mission of the Forest Preserves.

Wild Indigo Nature Explorations received thePark and Recreation Program – Class Ifrom the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials for its innovative outreach approach and as an excellent example of how to better connect urban communities with nature and how to build advocates for biodiversity conservation. The award is presented to an agency for providing a unique and exceptional program, activity, or event which provides an outstanding example for others to follow. Limited to two per class.

Next Century Conservation Plan received the Planning Initiative Award from the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials for its collaboration and engagement of civic leaders form a variety of disciplines and for creating a plan that is both visionary and practical. The award recognizes a planning initiative that has provided the agency with important information to aid in decision-making and which contributes to a body of knowledge that will be valuable to other agencies.


2013

Theodore Stone, Thatcher Woods and Edgebrook Demonstration Site allreceived a Conservation & Native Landscaping Award from the U.S. EPA and Chicago Wilderness which honors outstanding efforts by corporations, park districts, and municipalities to use native plants in the landscape or use conservation development practices within the Chicago Wilderness region.

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County and Powderhorn Lake received the Excellence in Ecological Restoration (Bronze Tier) Award from the Chicago Wilderness Commission on Excellence in Ecological Restoration for its impressively knowledgeable staff and their work, and for its organizational commitment to restoring the high quality natural areas under your jurisdiction. The award Recognizes high-quality restoration sites and excellent professional standards in natural resource management and ecological restoration.

Forest Preserve District of Cook County – Finance Department received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for their comprehensive annual financial report for the previous fiscal year, which achieved the highest standards in government accounting and financial reporting. The award recognizes state and local governments that go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure.

Palos and Sag Valley Forest Preserves were recognized as the Trail of the Month by Runner’s World which highlights noteworthy trails around the country. The preserves were recognized for its series of singletrack trails that roll and wind their way around the ponds, trees, hills, creeks, and reservoirs sprinkled throughout the preserve.

The Camping Master Plan received an Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects in recognition of outstanding professional achievement. Co-recipients include Studio Outside, Partners & Sirny Architects, Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp Landscape Architecture, Forest Preserves of Cook County


2012

Steve Silic and Jim Phillips received the Grassroots Conservation Leadership Award from the Chicago Wilderness Habitat Project for improving bird conservation by redesigning fishing sites that were dangerous for birds. The award recognizes individuals who have made a particularly inspiring contribution to conservation and restoration in the Chicago Wilderness region.

Richard Newhard received the Grassroots Conservation Leadership Award from the Chicago Wilderness Habitat Project for his work in ecological restoration and for developing relations with conservation organizations as Director of Resource Management. The award recognizes individuals who have made a particularly inspiring contribution to conservation and restoration in the Chicago Wilderness region.

Berman Slough Preserve received the Conservation & Native Landscaping Award from the U.S. EPA and Chicago Wilderness for conserving a significant natural area with diverse vegetation, varying habitats, and rare species, and for engaging volunteers. The award honors outstanding efforts by corporations, park districts, and municipalities to use native plants in the landscape or use conservation development practices within the Chicago Wilderness region.

McMahon Woods and Fen Nature Preserve received the Conservation & Native Landscaping Award from the U.S. EPA and Chicago Wilderness for restoring a significant natural area through planting native vegetation, removing invasives, and implementing a strong management plan. The award honors outstanding efforts by corporations, park districts, and municipalities to use native plants in the landscape or use conservation development practices within the Chicago Wilderness region.

Poplar Creek Forest Preserve Restoration received the Environmental/Conservation Award from the National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials for restoring a significant natural area that features rare plant species, rare bird species, and unique Midwestern ecosystems, all through a sustained collaboration between FPD staff and volunteers. The award recognizes an exceptional effort to acquire, restore, preserve, operate, or develop unique or significant conservation and natural areas or programs.

John Elliot received the Professional (Lifetime) Award from the National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials for making significant contributions to environmental education as Education Manager and as Director of River Trail Nature Center. The award recognizes a federal, state, or local official who has contributed significantly to the benefit of NACPRO member parks, recreation, and leisure services, and who is retiring or leaving parks and recreation service.

NeighborSpace Program received the Polaris Award from Midwest Ecological Landscaping Alliance which recognizes an individual or organization that demonstrated outstanding commitment to the practices of sustainability in the environment.


2011

NeighborSpace Program received the Local Hero (Best Chicago Non-profit) Award from Edible Communities which recognizes an individual or organization that demonstrated outstanding commitment to the practices of sustainability in the environment.

Forest Preserve District of Cook County – Finance Department received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for their comprehensive annual financial report for the previous fiscal year, which achieved the highest standards in government accounting and financial reporting. The award recognizes state and local governments that go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure.

Salt Creek Woods Nature Preserve Restoration Project received the Conservation & Native Landscaping Award from the U.S. EPA and Chicago Wilderness for restoring an oak-dominated woodland, woodland floodplain, and prairie remnants. The award honors outstanding efforts by corporations, park districts, and municipalities to use native plants in the landscape or use conservation development practices within the Chicago Wilderness region.


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