The Conservation Foundation has designated Pottawatomie Golf Course as a" Conservation@ Work" site for its adherence to environmentally responsible landscape design and maintenance principles.

The award was presented to Denise Gillett-Parchert, Golf Course Superintendent, by Trish Beckjord, Program Manager for the Foundation's Fox River Initiative.

"Denise and her staff are doing great work here at the golf course," said Beckjord. "It is a well-deserved certification."

Pottawatomie Golf Course joins Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, Delnor Woods, the Native Plant Demonstration Garden at Pottawatomie Community Center and Mt. St. Mary Park as "Conservation@Work" sites.

Established in 1972 by business and community leaders who shared a commitment to environmental responsibility, the Conservation Foundation is a private, nonprofit, 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to preserving natural areas, restoring water quality and promoting positive environmental initiatives throughout northeastern Illinois. Its "Conservation @Work" program encourages businesses, schools, church and organizational property owners to practice good conservation measures through the use of native plants, proper water resource management, reduced use of pesticides and herbicides, control of invasive species, and development of wildlife habitats.

"We are proud to be a leader in putting these ideals into practice and being educators of the community about the benefits of working with native plants," said Gillett-Parchert. "

"The love of this course by its members and participants is beyond comprehension," said Ron Skubisz, Golf Course Manager and PGA Golf Pro. "The primary reason people play here is because it's a beautiful course. We receive a tremendous amount of feedback from our players about our grounds and landscaping."

Gillett-Parchert began incorporating conservation practices into landscape plans many years ago, with a conscious effort to have approximately 80% of all planting areas to be comprised of native plant materials. Major renovation areas included landscaping around the restroom building, the cart path near the pro shop, and along the first and third tees. Grasses such as Prairie Dropseed and Little Blue Stem provide seasonal interest while sedges such as Pennsylvania sedge and Swamp Milkweed offer dense ground covers and help with shoreline restoration.

"We had several locations where our traditional plantings of annuals had been struggling," said Gillett-Parchert. "We've found that we could replace these unhappy annuals with native plants that really thrived in those locations."

The "Conservation@Work" areas within the St. Charles Park District serve to both educate and inspire visitors as to possibilities and practices they can put into place in their own work or home environments.

"We treat our native plant areas like a botanical garden, with identification plates for the plant material so that someone who says, 'Oh, I like that one!' can find out what it is, which makes it easier for them to act on using it in their own garden," said Gillett-Parchert.

Along with the garden installation around the golf course restroom building, the Native Plant Demonstration Garden at Pottawatomie Community Center also gives visitors a chance to see native plants used in situations that could mimic home landscapes.

"These are areas that have a residential scale so it helps people envision using these plants in their own gardens," said Beckjord. "It's wonderful that the park district serves as an example to homeowners and businesses in this area who use or visit these facilities to show them what is possible in their own yards."