Barrington High School alum leads Eagle Scout Project garden planting project – Chicago Tribune


A new perennial pollinator garden has been installed at Hawthorn Woods Community Park.

The garden was planted on June 10. Kyle Wanca, 18, a graduate of Barrington High School this school year, has made the garden his Eagle Scout project with Barrington Boy Scout Troop 10.

The garden, with 1,000 new plantings, is called the Phoebe Snetsinger Garden. Phoebe Snetsinger was the daughter of advertising entrepreneur Leo Burnett. She grew up in Hawthorn Woods and attended Lake Zurich High School. Snetsinger was a birdwatcher and was said to have been the first person in the world to see and identify more than 8,000 species of birds, according to community organizers involved in developing the garden in the area.

Wanca said the Eagle Scout Garden Project, which began planning last January, is about “remembering people, what they did and what they contributed to society.

“It’s important to remember people who have made a significant contribution to our communities,” Wanca said.

The garden will feature an engraved metal plaque recognizing the ornithologist Snetsinger who died in November 1999.

“We are thrilled that it is honoring a truly wonderful person and that this kind of legacy will continue,” said Brian Sullivan, Hawthorn Woods Director of Parks and Recreation.

“We like that it’s going to be pollinator-friendly, which means we can have monarch butterflies here, a bunch of bees, hummingbirds,” Sullivan said. “He will grow and become a cornerstone of the park.”

In a statement, the Snetsinger family expressed their gratitude for the tribute garden.

“We are delighted that the legacy of our mother’s love for nature lives on in Hawthorn Woods. This garden will undoubtedly inspire the future generation of naturalists,” reads the statement from Snetsinger’s children, Penny, Tom, Marmot and Susan.

Wanca met Pam Self, from Hawthorn Woods, and Shari Gullo, from Lake Zurich, co-founders of the Phoebe Snetsinger Garden Project and the Ela Peace Project.

Self is landscape architect and designer of the Phoebe Snetsinger garden.

“You always have to identify what is an appropriate project for an Eagle Scout,” Self said, “and we had this project as part of the (Ela) peace project. … We had to set up this (garden) first and we brought it here.

Alicia Timm of Lake Zurich, an avid home gardener, was among the volunteers planting native perennials such as liatris (Blazing Star) and two types of milkweed (for monarch butterflies).

“With native plants, the first year they sleep, the second year they crawl, and the third year they jump,” Timm said. “It will be so much fun for them (the young volunteers) to come back in two or three years when the plants have really taken off.”

Kyle Wanca raised over $2,000 for the garden. Midwest Groundcovers of St. Charles helped by donating plants.

“We can’t say enough about the Hawthorn Woods Public Works and Parks and Recreation Department as they help Kyle maintain it as he settles in this first summer,” Self said.

Gullo said he heard about Phoebe Snetsinger while researching the peace project.

“When I asked locals about her, no one had ever heard of her,” she said. “I thought the community should somehow commemorate her.”

The garden has the potential to grow if other interested groups come up with suitable expansion ideas, Sullivan said.

“We’re delighted to welcome any volunteer projects that people bring forward,” Sullivan said. “If people show up and we say, ‘Let’s find a place for this’, we don’t like to say no, we want to say, ‘That’s a really good idea’, so let’s do it.”

Brian and Janet Wanca expressed their pride in their son’s project.

Janet Wanca called the garden a “beautiful idea”.

“It’s important to do something and give back to the community,” said Brian Wanca.

Kyle Wanca’s friend William Dowell, 18, from Barrington, also a 2022 BHS graduate, was among the volunteers helping with planting in the garden.

“It’s great to have a lasting impact,” Dowell said. “So when you come back in 30 or 20 years, you look at it and show your kids and realize what you’ve done.”

Karie Angell Luc is a freelancer.


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