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TLC to honor teachers committed to oaks

Published: Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – The Land Conservancy of McHenry County will recognize local teachers Bill Donato and Beth Theiss with Living with Trees Awards at its annual celebration and brunch Jan. 27.

Donato, a Woodstock High School science teacher, has led students in a multiyear effort to restore the city of Woodstock’s Gerry Street Park, two blocks from the school’s South Street Campus. The restoration work has removed invasive species from around native oak trees and created a hiking trail through much of the 30-acre property. Donato’s efforts raise awareness among the younger generation of the need for restoration of natural lands and the benefits of nature for people.

Theiss, a Hannah Beardsley Middle School seventh-grade science teacher, approached TLC in 2010 to discuss ways she might incorporate projects related to the area’s native oak trees into science curriculum. Theiss worked with school administrators and the other science teachers to create a three-part program that includes acorn collection and classification in the fall, propagation of trees from the collected acorns over a two-year period, and planting of native oaks at Three Oaks Recreation Area in the spring. The program began in fall 2011, and through the hands-on activities and classroom learning, students are gaining knowledge of the importance of oak trees to the area’s landscape and history.

The TLC program will be at 11 a.m. Jan 27 at D’Andrea Banquets in Crystal Lake. Brunch runs until 12:30 p.m., when the awards will be presented.

The program also includes a presentation by Jim Pfitzer, acclaimed storyteller, who will present “Aldo Leopold: A Standard of Change” at 1 p.m.

Tickets are $35 for members and $50 for nonmembers, and can be bought online at or by calling 815-337-9502.

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