That Was Fun, Now What?

The year 2023 had some surprises for Friends of the Fox River (FOTFR). FOTFR was very busy with a full calendar of fun including its standard activities of in-stream experiences for youth, lots of cleanups, and many events for building a watershed community of caretakers. Two unanticipated circumstances developed this past year, which were more like gifts, that significantly added to our planned efforts.

We hope that will include YOU too.

On The Big Screen
The debut screening of Watershed Warriors was an impromptu event in April that demonstrated our courage for trying something new and the power of having our Friends’ support. The event was the closest thing to a gala that we have ever attempted. It was fun and impactful. The film’s international distribution, promotional television appearances, and winning a film festival significantly helped us raise our voice for restoring the Fox River. The intent of the film is to motivate viewers to become a Watershed Warrior.

We hope it will inspire YOU too.
Over 100 of our Friends joined us in a reception at a beautiful venue with food, beverages, music, a program, and the film on a big screen.

The Other BIG Surprise
River restoration through dam removal has been a FOTFR advocacy quest from the very beginning. In September, we received committed support from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The culmination of the Fox River Connectivity and Habitat Study came forward with a plan for removing nine dams and included the funding for dam removal. This was the most significant federal support since the Clean Water Act of 1972. And it turned dam removal from a dream into a reality. FOTFR stepped up to assist in any capacity. We continue with our public education efforts and look forward to the implementation of the most environmentally impactful and economical solution to addressing the Fox River’s impaired water status.

More Changes
In 2023, we also got some new looks and made many new Friends. The year began with the photo contest winners being honored and their submissions were the source for our 2024 wall calendar fundraiser. You can still get a copy here.

For 14 years, we have been restoring the house and surrounding grounds at the Schweitzer Environmental Center (SEC). New windows, HVAC, and Bee Sanctuary (and beyond) were all improvements. This coming year, an ADA compliant entrance and the removal of a structural wall will make our home venue more accessible and increase our seating capacity. We will continue our 2nd Sunday series and be adding much more youth programming there. The facility is also available for rent and this is growing too.

Introducing our water drop mascot, and events with local breweries,
including Fox River Jeopardy.
Schweitzer Environmental Center
Consider becoming an SEC event volunteer, holding an event at SEC
or joining the ecological restoration crew.
Students participate in the in-stream experience.

In 2023, FOTFR doubled our Elgin educational experiences but still maintained our services from Richmond downstream to Yorkville schools. We will be continuing to grow in 2024. FOTFR is partnering with SciTech 2.0 to offer more experiences in the Batavia through the Aurora area.
In addition to geographical growth, we will be planning a new summer camp and an increase in utilizing SEC and grounds for expanded programming of watershed education experiences. To realize this growth, we are seeking volunteers (with some paid opportunities) for our fun-filled education team. And we also are in need of a replacement vehicle (pickup or van) for hauling the field equipment to our sites.

Please call 815 356 6605 if you can help us.
Having fun at the Watershed Warrior event.

Friend Raising
As a reader of the Watershed Weekly, you are Friend. Producing this weekly publication and keeping up with daily social media is very important and we could use help here too with writing, editing, and layout. We hope 2024 will be a year to consider joining one of our teams. The committee level is where the work orders are generated, and assignments made. Support at events helps too. Please contact FOTFR to schedule a discussion about how YOU can be a part of an anticipated great year for FOTFR. Human resources are essential to our success. Friend raising is as important as fund raising. We experienced substantial growth this year and are enthusiastically looking forward to more in 2024. And we look forward to celebrating with YOU.

Together, WE keep on fixin’ the Fox.