Protecting a river is like playing a video game – the threats never stop coming.

Friends of the Fox River (FOTFR) was founded to save a dying river by empowering the public to take action to care for it as their river. In 30 years, much has changed and conditions are far better, but the work is never done. Challenges change, and so must protection/restoration strategies. Just like at every river cleanup, we find our trash where people have been. The tires and washing machines have been replaced by single-use plastics and face masks. Industrial discharges have been replaced by large patches of pavement collecting and delivering pollution. But there is always trash. From litter to dam removal, it is the foundation of public empowerment that keeps our river healthy. FOTFR has most heavily invested in watershed education to effectively change a culture of river abuse. And we are the leader in introducing students to their watershed.

FOTFR version 2022

FOTFR is looking forward in the year ahead to a time of renewing partnerships, trying new things to fulfill our mission, and to having a lot of fun doing it. With three new board members, added staff, and a growing number of partners and volunteers, FOTFR is ready to rock 2022. Now might be a great time for you to ramp up your friendship with us. We are focused upon meeting our watershed residents where they are. Here is a run-down on how to be a friend of the Fox River.

More Friends

We have acquired some new friends by making connections through various channels. The results of a survey we conducted informed us that our friends want to be actively involved. The real work in our organization happens in monthly committee gatherings where we share ideas, inventory our skills, and make implementation plans. Consider reviewing our meeting times on our calendar and join us on zoom for one. These efforts may seem passive but they are what makes the activities happen and your interests and skills will find a place with FOTFR.

Dirty Hands

Jenni Schiavone on the Fox River

We will again have a series of spring shoreline cleanups and be working toward our fall classic, It’s Our Fox River Day in September. This year will be the biggest yet and now is the time to start planning an event near you. Look for details on how to be part of this watershed wide event. FOTFR’s educator Jenni is planning to paddle the entire 225-mile length of the Fox River as a promotion for this event. Why don’t you plan to join her for part of the adventure?

Keep the Fun in FUNdraising

Fun at our 2021 FUNdraiser

FOTFR continues to engage in a variety of fundraising activities. We intend to host our No Clean Water No Good Beer event in Dundee again but are planning similar events at other venues. We are looking for friends in Aurora and McHenry to assist us. By popular vote, we plan on offering two kayaks for the annual raffle. If you know of an individual or organization who would like to donate two kayaks to FOTFR for our raffle, please let us know. We also have a special riverfront friend in Johnsburg who has placed FOTFR on their wedding registry. How fun will that be? And in Elgin, an artist’s cooperative is making us the benefactor of their Totally Tiki show.

Where are you?   

We want to meet our friends where they are. To do that, we are planning to provide special events targeted for young families, scouts, paddlers, and meet-up kind of folks for a variety of experiences to connect you with your river and its streams. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and monthly calendar for announcements on these activities. Share your ideas with us at:

Learning Curve

If health and safety conditions allow, FOTFR plans to meet our goal of adding 5000 more students to our education programming this year. We have big plans for expansion in Elgin and Aurora schools and a few other underserved areas. If you have a student, please help us connect with their school to share our services menu. Our new Bee Sanctuary at the Schweitzer Environmental Center is going to become a very popular place for students and their families. The 2021 addition of over 1000 new plants will surely bring many winged visitors to observe. There is no admission fee and is open from dawn to dusk for your exploration. Visit often as it changes weekly during the growing season.

A visitor at our Bee Sanctuary

Free the Fox

We anticipate celebrating something totally new for us: A major dam removal in the fall. For over thirty years FOTFR has been advocating for the removal of many of the dams which are no longer useful and impair Fox River water quality, fish passage, and pose a safety threat. Many see the removal of the Carpentersville dam as the beginning of a new movement onward downstream. This will be party worthy.

2022 the Year of the Friend

FOTFR needs more friends to help us Keep on Fixin’ the Fox. We invite you to get to know us better and become a more involved friend. Whether it is through a committee contribution, as a participant in our existing programs or through some new activities that we will be creating,  FOTFR welcomes new perspectives, ideas, relationships, and friends. We are as strong as the force of friends we have; join us in 2022 for some Fox River fun. Visit:, follow us on Facebook, and read our weekly publication. Call us at 815 356 6650 to have a chat about how we can grow our friendship.