Pav YMCA in Berwyn is for the birds…and
butterflies and lots of other wildlife
with a new wildlife habitat currently
in the works, featuring our beautiful
native Illinois flowers and grasses.
habitat is being created in front
of the YMCA, at 2927 S. Oak Park
Ave. "Y" Executive Director
John Usmial said he was intrigued by
the idea after being approached by
Art Gara and Leslie Cummings, a volunteer
trainer with the National Wildlife
Federation's Backyard Wildlife Habitat
completed habitat will be certified
by the NWF later this year and will
be named the "Loren
Fillmore Camp Memorial Wildlife Habitat" in
memory of the long-time "Y" supporter
who passed away in 2001. "I thought
it was a great idea," Usmial said. "Before,
all we had there was a bunch of rocks,
now we'll have something of beauty
in memory of someone who really cared
about the 'Y' and its programs."
The front of
the building faces south. The
bed is 66' x 4 1/2', excluding
the area under the overhang
(which was not planted so the
staff could wash the windows.)
6" of crushed
limestone and a weed screen
were removed and 6" of
topsoil added to prepare the
The habitat will
include native Illinois grasses
and flowers as well as some
small rock piles, birdfeeders,
birdbaths, and birdhouses.
The natural area is expected
to not only beautify the YMCA's front
yard and provide habitat for local
wildlife, but also to be an educational
tool for children taking classes at
the YMCA and their parents.
who donated the plants for the site,
suggested the YMCA as a potential
spot for a wildlife habitat after
having seen the open area lacking
in landscape in front of the building. "It just seemed like
the obvious place to start," he said. "And
native plants are beautiful, hearty,
good for the environment, and good
Art planted the flowers
and grasses in November - right before
the first freeze.
At left, Leslie Cummings
and Art Gara inspect the soon-to-be-gorgeous
Now Cummings is working
with Usmial and YMCA staff to complete
the wildlife habitat, which should
be finished later this year.
"I'm really excited about this. The habitat
is in a great location to be enjoyed by many
people - and, of course, local wildlife," Cummings
said. "Native plants and wildlife habitats
attract a lot of birds and butterflies, which
are interesting and fun to watch." But
wildlife habitat goes beyond just the fun
and interesting. Natural habitat helps
The 300 sq. ft. bed
in front of the Pav YMCA was planted
with a nice assortment of native
wildflowers, grasses and sedges,
which will bloom from spring through
summer and into the fall.
The bed was mulched
with pine bark mulch and the unplanted
area under the overhang with pine
is hoping this will be the beginning
of a beautiful friendship. "I've
grown Art and Linda's plants in
my own yard and I know how beautiful
and hearty they are.
I hope to work
with Art and Linda on future wildlife habitats
in this area," she
"I really believe
we need some wildlife habitat here in Berwyn,
not only for our local critters, but also for
children who really don't get a lot of exposure
to nature in developed suburbs."
Leslie Cummings, Art Gara, John Usmial
and Jamie Swicionis - YMCA youth
and family director, who is working
to create activities for summer day
camps which will revolve around the
habitat and nature education - pose
in front of the newly completed Loren
Fillmore Camp Memorial Wildlife Habitat.
Art and Linda's Wildflowers
was honored by the Pav YMCA for their
donation of the wildlife habitat, by
this sponsor banner, which proudly
hangs over the swimming pool, a nice
engraved plaque and three free tickets
to the pancake breakfast in March.
Some of the garden
was replanted in the spring of 2002.
A birdbath, different
mulches, rocks and logs were added
to enhance the habitat.
Our friend Joseph Standing Bear,
president of Midwest SOARRING, which educates
people about living in harmony with the land
and wildlife, held a moving spiritual blessing
ceremony for the habitat this summer.
Visit this garden a year later. Click
here to be surprised and delighted!
For more information on wildlife
habitats, go to the National Wildlife Federation
website at www.nwf.org.