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The Riverwalk Crew: Digging in to learn, grow and beautify

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Like many Naperville residents, Phyllis loves the Riverwalk and enjoys walking her dog there year-round. As a volunteer, she has developed a deeper appreciation of all that goes into design and care of the beautiful flower beds that make the Riverwalk so appealing.


Phyllis (middle) with fellow volunteers Susan (left) and Valerie (right)

Several years ago, after retiring from Alcatel-Lucent , Phyllis was looking online for volunteer opportunities in the community when she noticed the Naperville Park District’s call for volunteers to assist at the Riverwalk. She interviewed with Tiffani, Park Specialist for the Riverwalk, and was one of the first to join the new group, informally known as the Riverwalk Dead Headers.The volunteer crew works alongside Tiffani every other Wednesday morning between March and mid-November, dead-heading flowers, weeding, mulching, planting or assisting with other tasks as needed.


Volunteers Phyllis (left) and Valerie (right) assist Park District staff member, Efren


“I always look forward to Wednesdays,” said Phyllis. “Tiffani runs our projects like a graduate seminar. She explains everything as we go, for example, defining a weed as anything that grows where you don’t want it. She knows so much; I haven’t yet heard a question that she can’t answer. She plans our activities so that we will learn something and enjoy the work.”


The Dead Headers assisted Tiffani and Park Specialist Efren as they planted tulip bulbs in front of the Park District Administration building. Four varieties will bloom next spring on the Riverwalk, featuring shades of purple and apricot, accented with red-tipped yellow Sun Catchers.

 
Tulip bulbs ready to be planted


This short video clip shows the drilling tool in action. This year, the Park District crew planted 8,500 bulbs at the Riverwalk and at Park District facilities in just two days.

 


Susan finishes raking the bed where the tulips have been planted.

The final project for the year will be to assemble holiday wreaths for the Riverwalk.

Besides enjoying the outdoor exercise, camaraderie, and the beauty of the Riverwalk, Phyllis appreciates the opportunity that volunteering gives her to learn more about gardening. “I’ve learned more about gardening at home, for example, how to design a planter. You want to include a thriller (a tall plant in the center), a filler and a spiller.”


Planter outside the Administration Building

 

Phyllis also has learned more about the Park District.  “I have learned how vast the Riverwalk and the Park District are.  Tiffani has a big staff in the summer and she gets out there with everyone, working alongside them. She plans the floral displays so that they all blend in with the perennials on the Riverwalk.”


Annuals blend with perennials in the Riverwalk floral displays

Environmental education also is part of her experience as a volunteer. “The biggest thing is planting and taking care of native plants like the purple coneflower.  We never dead head those so that the birds can eat the seeds.” She also appreciates the way Tiffani points out some of nature’s hidden treasures, such as a nest of owlets in Sindt Woods.
 
Purple coneflower


While the Dead Header group is a unique and limited volunteer crew, the Park District offers many other opportunities to volunteer for short term projects and special events.  Residents also are invited to consider adopting a park, trail or field. To learn more about volunteering and the Adopt-A-Park program, visit the District’s volunteer web page or contact Volunteer Manager Lynnette Hoole at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank you to Phyllis, Susan and Valerie for your dedication and enthusiasm to help maintain one of our community treasures.


Tiffani, Susan, Phyllis, Valerie and Efren


Our staff recommends that you plant your spring bulbs in the fall.  If you purchased bulbs at the Park District's spring tulip bulb sale, store them in a dry place until they are ready to plant. For a demonstration and advice from Tiffani, check our 2016 video here.


Connect your business’s brand with a well-known and respected one like the Naperville Park District’s and reach a large, active and diverse audience.

To learn more about our sponsorship opportunities contact
Stacey Fontechia Sales and Sponsorship Manager at 630-848-3575 or at sfontechia@napervilleparks.org.

Looking for an opportunity to have a positive impact on people’s lives while building a fun and dynamic career? Consider the Naperville Park District! It takes all kinds of skills, knowledge and talent to serve the recreation needs of the Naperville community. If you’re passionate about the outdoors, staying active, having fun and encouraging others to do the same, then check out our part-time and full-time career opportunities.

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Funds raised through the Naperville Parks Foundation support the Naperville Park District’s Fee Assistance Program. The Naperville Parks Foundation supports the recreation needs and desires of the residents of Naperville – encouraging health and wellness, fitness, family time, and fun. The Foundation supports the mission of making recreation of all kinds accessible to everyone across the community, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances.

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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

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Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
 
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
 
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment
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