2014 ICF Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to this year's winners.

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Welcome to the Illinois Conservation Foundation


In the space of a few short decades, our world has changed immensely, and with it so have our youth. Today’s youth are afflicted with nature-deficit disorder, a condition easily addressed spending time outdoors discovering and developing a connection to the natural world.  Research shows that the average American child spends less than 4 minutes a day in unstructured play, yet 44 hours per week—more than 6 hours per day—staring at some type of electronic screen. With the explosion of information technology systems, and our dependence on computers, tablets, televisions, MP3 players, electronic games and cell phones, we’ve lost a physical, unstructured connection to the outdoors. Replacing “green time” with “screen time” has significantly altered our nation, with long-term impacts that will only become evident over time.

The ICF and our supporters are committed to ensuring that Illinoisans - young and old - have the opportunity to connect with nature.  We are working to preserve some of the wild habitats disappearing from the Prairie State and provide our citizenry with opportunities to participate in quality outdoor activities.  Foremost in our mission is to support programs designed to educate our youth in proper conservation education & sustainable living/business practices and to provide tomorrow's leaders with opportunities to participate in life-altering, memorable outdoor experiences.  

The ICF is a grassroots conservation effort, conceptualized by Illinois' first Conservation Congress, a formal process for conservation-oriented organizations to propose and advocate actions that can be taken by elected and appointed officials to protect and conserve the natural resources of Illinois.  In existence since 1994, only recently has the ICF had the means—via the Torstenson Youth Conservation Education Center in Rockford, IL—for igniting teachers’ and students’ interest in nature and contributing to youth education efforts on a daily basis.

Since hiring a Program Director in July 2013, the ICF has hosted numerous school fieldtrips centered on natural resource studies. Youth groups from as far as Chicago have explored our 750 acre tract, studying the woodland, wetland, restored prairie and river habitats and wildlife. Extended visits over the summer have allowed Chicago youth opportunities for a full immersion camping experience in a setting without skyscrapers and the noise and pollution of the city.

Earth-savvy children will be better prepared to make wise decisions for themselves, and for our nation and planet as a whole. We would welcome the opportunity to partner with your organization to provide rich, diverse outdoor education programs for the youth of Illinois.

Brett Dunn, Pecatonica High School, Biological Sciences Teacher:

"Its places like this that inspired people like Thoreau and Leopold to pick up a pencil.  An educator's dream, a living classroom, always wonderful, ever evolving, growing and we are allowed to witness it.

The world continues to get small and with all the answers to your questions a mere click away, it becomes increasingly less necessary to venture outdoors and discover the answers for yourself. As an outdoor educator, I relish any opportunity, no matter how fleeting, to do just that - venture out! "

A 501 (c) (3) organization, the Illinois Conservation Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation, with all funds held in private accounts. 

20th Anniversary - 1994 - 2014

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