Whiteside County Soil and Water
Conservation District
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Natural Area Guardians

The NAGS Scholarship award goes to.....

The award of a $500 scholarship to a college student pursuing a degree in the area of the environment/conservation/agriculture, is one of the most significant activities of the Natural Area Guardians. This year’s recipient for the 2017-2018 school year is Madison Vandersee.

Madison, the daughter of Doug and Jo Ellen Vandersee of Sterling, is a senior at Augustana College pursuing degrees in Environmental Science and Geography with a minor in Geology. Madison relates that her projects have ranged from “...a study of water quality and stream-bank stability plans for local farmers to water management projects for nearby cities.” In addition to community-based projects, she has also been involved in an analysis of sedimentation rates on the Mississippi River and a study of water use in California. Her senior research project, as part of her Geography major, is the creation of a prairie restoration on 3 acres of farmland at Camp Benson, where she is serving as Program Director her fourth summer. Madison hopes this restoration will help emphasize the importance of prairie ecosystems and conservation.

Madison has also been an active volunteer at Nachusa Grasslands and the Nature Conservancy in Rock Island. We are pleased to present Madison with this year’s scholarship. Congratulations!!!

Other activities of the Natural Area Guardians include brush-removal, seed picking, and the removal of alien species from the prairies managed by the group: the Lyndon-Agnew prairie, cemetery prairies, and the Spring Slough wetland. The Natural Area Guardians meet the second Thursday of the month at Odell Library in Morrison. Anyone interested in knowing more about the scholarship and other activities of the group may go to the website, www.whitesidecountyswcd.com and click on the Natural Area Guardians tab.

Membership in the Natural Area Guardians is encouraged. Dues are $5 for students and $10 for adults. Membership dues can be sent to the SWCD office in care of the Natural Area Guardians, 16255 Liberty Street, Morrison, IL 61270.  Thank you!!



The Whiteside County Natural Area Guardians, formed as a sub-committee of the Whiteside County Soil and Water Conservation district in 1988, is a group of volunteers dedicated to the preservation, restoration and management of the remaining natural areas and their flora and fauna in Whiteside County.



     { Locate and inventory natural areas in Whiteside County

{ Encourage preservation and management of natural areas

{ Obtain funding to purchase or lease natural areas in the county

{ Promote awareness through field trips and educational programs

{ Manage natural areas received by Whiteside County SWCD

{ Help establish seed banks of endangered species

{ Preserve for future generations the remaining natural areas

{ Work closely with Natural Land Institute, IL Department of  Transportation,     Illinois     Nature Preserves Commission,  Department of Natural Resources and other related agencies

{ Provide mutual support to the SWCD



     | Manage several prairie cemeteries in the county

| Continue the  Lyndon Agnew Prairie restoration along I-88

| Continue restoration & management of two wetland tracts purchased by the NAGs: Agnew, 10 acres, and  Spring Slough, 24 acres

| Lease and manage a 58 acre section of Spring Slough wetland owned by four landowners in  northwest Montmorency Township

| Work with the Sterling Park District in the management of the Thomas Park Prairie Restoration

| Manage the expanded prairie restoration project on the campus of Sauk Valley Community College

| Assist landowners dealing with natural land management

| Provide scholarships for college students pursuing careers in conservation related fields of study

| Offer monetary grants to teachers for environmental projects

| Assist with Eagle Scout and 4-H club projects

| Published “The Self-Guided Tour of Whiteside County,” and “Prairie Plants of Whiteside County”

| Conduct field trips and participate in programs such as Bald Eagle Days

| Hold annual art show to celebrate nature and the beauty of natural art forms



     When the first settlers came to Whiteside County,  they were greeted with a rich diversity of woods, wetlands, tall waving grasses, and a myriad of flowers, butterflies, and mammals.  The growth of NAG groups in Illinois is one of the most positive steps being taken to save what remains of our local natural heritage for those who are yet to come. 

     When asked if a small group could really make a difference, Margaret Mead replied, “They are the only ones who make a difference.”

     The Whiteside County NAGs meet on the second Thursday of each month.  Winter meetings are normally held in Morrison.  Summer meetings are held in various locations in conjunction with field trips or work projects.  Members receive minutes and notices of activities.  Both “hands on” members and those who contribute moral and monetary support are of vital importance to the group.

    The ability to view a delicate shooting star in bloom or a vast sea of pale purple coneflower is perhaps the most precious legacy you can pass on to your grandchildren.  Join us and become part of a group that strives to “make a difference.”

To become a NAGS member click on the application here: NAGS Membership Application

Natural Area Guardians Scholarship

The Whiteside County Natural Area Guardians, a committee of the Soil and Water Conservation District, will award a $500 scholarship to college students who are pursuing a degree in the area of conservation/environmentally-related field. The scholarships are available for the students junior and senior years at an institution of higher learning. First consideration is given to students who reside in Whiteside County.

Applications are available by clicking the link below or at the SWCD office, USDA Building, 16255 Liberty Street, Morrison, IL 61270. Further information may be obtained by calling 815-772-2124 Ext. 3. Completed applications are due by May 1st and should be sent to: Scholarship Committee, Natural Area Guardians, C/O Carolyn Keller, 1716 W. 4th Street, Sterling, IL 61081.

Note: On the scholarship application heading you will see it says two scholarships, this is an error, it is for one scholarship at this time. Thank you.

NAGS Scholarship Application


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