WWOC 11: Rain Garden

Isabella Johnson

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Women made significant contributions to environmental activism and conservation. In 1963, Naperville resident and Morton Arboretum naturalist May Watts wrote to the Chicago Tribune about her proposal to create a public foot path which ultimately led to the creation of the Illinois Prairie Path. Watts is known as the originator of rails-to-trails—an idea that has inspired projects around the world. May Watts Elementary School and May Watts Park are her landmarks in Naperville. Jane Sindt, one of the founders of the Naperville Heritage Society, also worked to make the Illinois Prairie Path a reality. Barbara Ashley Sielaff founded the Naperville Area Recycling Center in 1973 becoming a national leader in the recycling movement. Her work is recognized with a statue on the Century Walk. Marjorie Osbourne was a Naperville education leader helping oversee the formation of District 203. She was also a passionate advocate for water resource management. Her work is recognized at Lake Osbourne. In 1992, Leonore Clow McDonald donated her 60-acre farm to The Conservation Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to protecting lands and rivers. The McDonald Farm remains a display of Naperville’s rich agricultural and conservation history. Isabella Johnson has taken up the mantel of environmental activism in the 21st century. She leads the IL chapter of the Youth Climate Strike. She and other activists staged an 11-minute die-in at Chicago City Hall to represent the 11 years left before the worst effects of climate change become inevitable.