Conservation@ Programs

The NLI Conservation@Programs are designed to encourage private landowners, local businesses, churches and schools to become actively involved in community conservation efforts.  Whether you are starting from a turf grass lawn, have planted some natives or have natural areas already established, the Conservation@Programs can assist you in your efforts.

Would you like NLI to present more information about the Conservation@ programs to your garden club, business, church or school?  We’d love to hear from you.  Contact Kim Johnsen at 815/964-6666 or email kjohnsen@naturalland.org to set up a presentation.


Want to buy a rain barrel?

We recommend purchasing one from Winnebago County Soil and Water Conservation District. See information and cost here


NATIVE PLANT SALES – Spring 2024

Wild Ones Rock River Valley Chapter: Information and order online by April 26, 2024 HERE. The will hold a public sale on Fri., May 10, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. and Sat., May 11, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at 4601 Paulson Rd., Caledonia IL 61011.

Country Road Greenhouses – Sat., May 18 and Sun., May 19, 2024, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. both days. Location 19561 E Twombly Road, Rochelle, IL 61068. Check out their website here. Find them on Facebook here. They will be selling Native Prairie Plants, Grasses, and Sedges, as well as Native Shrubs and Trees, and a large selection of veggie plants and herbs.

 

Click on tabs below to learn more information about our Conservation@ Programs.

 

Conservation@Home

Beautifying your yard while conserving water and creating habitat for wildlife can be easy and rewarding.  You can save money, mow less, see more birds and butterflies and enjoy a functioning yard with less effort. The focus of our Conservation@Home program is to encourage the use of native plants and to promote good water resource practices in residential yards and gardens. At the core of environmentally friendly landscapes is the use of native plants.  Native plants are those species that were present locally when the settlers first arrived. Over thousands of years native plants evolved to be drought resistant, with deep roots that help carry moisture deep into the ground. Loss of open space and wildlife habitat and dirty rainwater runoff are the leading causes of environmental degradation in our developed areas.  Traditional landscapes do not give our native birds and butterflies what they need in the way of food.  If we can replace some of this lost habitat in our yards, then we can reduce some of the negative impacts of development and have cleaner water in our neighborhoods Land owners that practice good environmental stewardship and conservation of local resources are the heart of Conservation@Home.  We award each Conservation@Home property a sign identifying its certification as a wildlife haven and environmentally friendly landscape.  Whether it is creating a butterfly garden or rain garden with native plants, using organic fertilizers and pesticides or removing unwanted invasive vegetation, every little action we accomplish on our own properties works toward the greater goal of cleaning up our water, providing natural habitat and creating healthy landscapes for people and wildlife.

 

Steps for Certification

  1. If you are interested in making your property a Conservation@Home site contact Kim Johnsen at Natural Land Institute for more information 815/964-6666 or email kjohnsen@naturalland.org.
  2. Staff at NLI will conduct an initial survey over the phone based on the Conservation@Home Certification Criteria Checklist. This checklist can be downloaded here (and helps you  pre-determine qualification).
  3. Participants with strong qualifications can set up a site visit with NLI staff. Those wanting more information or advice on how they may get involved or improve their property can receive additional assistance including helpful links, information on upcoming events and appropriate literature.

Cost for certification

Qualified homeowners will have the opportunity to get a yard sign signifying their participation in the program and recognizing their environmentally friendly landscape.  The requested donation for the program is $25 for current members of Natural Land Institute.  For non-members, a $50 donation will award participation in the Conservation@Home program and includes a one-year membership to Natural Land Institute. Payment can be made online by filling out the form below.

Conservation@Home

  • (If applicable)
  • Must match your credit card billing address.
  • Please let us know if you have any special requests or needs.
  • Please select either NLI member or non-member option.
  • Name

    Please click on "+" sign to add additional lines.
  • First and Last Name 
  • $0.00

Getting Started

Not yet ready to call for property certification, but still interested in transitioning to a greener landscape?  Here are some easy ways to get started.

  • Go Native! When choosing new plants for your yard and garden, consider native plants.  The use of native plants is key to any environmentally friendly landscape.  The deep roots reach far into the ground requiring less water, help reduce erosion and absorb and filter rainwater.
  • Save Water! Rain barrels can capture water that falls on your property so that you can put it to good use later watering lawns and gardens. Rain barrels also help reduce run off that collects pollutant as it drains into our rivers and streams.
  • Say No to Invasives! Non-native species compete with and sometimes choke out more beneficial native species. Choose native plants, shrubs and trees or actively work on reducing already invasive plants on your property.
  • Cut Back on Harmful Chemicals! Work to reduce or eliminate the use of fertilizers, weed treatments, salt and other chemicals that are harmful to birds, bees, fish and other animals.

For more information on how you can bring nature to your home click here.

Conservation@Work and School

Some of the largest landholders in our community are businesses, schools, and churches whose properties offer tremendous opportunity to impact water quality and wildlife in the area.  Through Conservation@Work we educate business owners and organizational leaders on the benefits of native plants, ways to conserve the rainwater that falls on their land, proper management of invasive species and how to reduce chemical use and watering.  These practices not only help preserve and restore our natural environment, but they can drastically reduce maintenance costs while providing shelter for beneficial wildlife and beautiful outdoor spaces to enhance employee and customer satisfaction.

Steps to Certification

If you are interested in making your property a Conservation@Work site contact Kim Johnsen at natural Land Institute for more information 815/964-6666 or email kjohnsen@naturalland.org.

Staff at NLI will conduct an initial survey over the phone based on the Conservation@Work Certification Criteria Checklist.

The Checklist  for Conservation@Work can be downloaded here and helps you pre-determine qualification.

The Checklist for Conservation@School can be downloaded here and helps you pre-determine qualification.

We’d love to come see the ways you are working to conserve water and invite nature into your business, school or church, offer tips on what you can do to have an even greater impact and give you the recognition you deserve for your efforts

Cost for certification

Qualified businesses and organizations will have the opportunity to get a yard sign signifying their participation in the program and recognizing their environmentally friendly landscape.  The requested donation for the program is $50 for current members of Natural Land Institute.  For non-members, a $300 ($100 for non profit organizations) donation will award participation in the Conservation@Work program and includes a one-year Corporate Council membership to Natural Land Institute.

Payment can be made online here by filling out the form below.

Conservation@

  • (If applicable)
  • Must match your credit card billing address.
  • Please let us know if you have any special requests or needs.
  • Please select either NLI member or non-member option.
  • Name

    Please click on "+" sign to add additional lines.
  • First and Last Name 
  • $0.00

Getting Started

Not yet ready to call for property certification, but still interested in transitioning to a greener landscape?  Here are some easy ways to get started.

  • Go Native! When choosing new plants for your landscaping, consider native plants.  The use of native plants is key to any environmentally friendly landscape.  The deep roots reach far into the ground requiring less water, help reduce erosion and absorb and filter rainwater.
  • Save Water! Rain barrels can capture water that falls on your property so that you can put it to good use later watering lawns and gardens. Rain barrels also help reduce run off that collects pollutant as it drains into our rivers and streams.
  • Say No to Invasives! Non-native species compete with and sometimes choke out more beneficial native species. Choose native plants, shrubs and trees or actively work on reducing already invasive plants on your property.
  • Cut Back on Harmful Chemicals! Work to reduce or eliminate the use of fertilizers, weed treatments, salt and other chemicals that are harmful to birds, bees, fish and other animals.
Events, classes and workshops

Please click the logo below to be directed to the calendar pages.

 

Vendors and Resources

CICADA

Want a wildlife friendly landscape? From homeowner to commercial developer find resources to fit your needs on the CIDADA (Conservation Inclusive Construction and Development Archive) website here.


Vendors

Landscape Design

Blue Stem Ecological Services, 815/568-2927

Green Key Landscape Design, Rockford, IL

Knolls Landscaping, Rockford, IL

Olson Ecological Solutions, 815/985-2689

Pizzo & Associates

Tyler’s Landscaping, 815/636-8500

 

Nurseries With Natives

J Carlson Growers – Rockford, IL

Pizzo & Associates/Pizzo Native Plant Nursery – Leland, IL

Prairie Moon Nursery – Winona, MN

Rock Valley Garden Center – Rockford, IL

Village Green Garden Centers – Rockford, IL

Wild Ones Rock River Valley Chapter – Rockford area


Resources

Rain Barrels

Winnebago County Soil and Water Conservation District

Rain Gardens

Wisconsin DNR How to Design a Rain Garden for Your Home

Helping Native Pollinators

Nests for Native Bees- The Xerces Society 

 
 
 
 

Native Plant Identification

Illinois Wildflowers 

University of Illinois Extension Wildflower Directory

University of Illinois Prairie Handbook 

Illinois State Museum Praire Plant Field Guide

Illinois State Museum Tree Guide 

Native Thistles: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide 

Invasive Plant Identification

Illinois invasive plant list

Stewardship Network Invasive Plants of the Midwest Field Guide

Wisconsin DNR Invasive Species Photo Guide

Monarchs – The Monarch Lady, Kay MacNeil, will share her abundant knowledge of Monarch butterflies and everything else you need to know about them. View her website and contact her here.

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