Glencoe Golf Club encourages kids to connect with nature

Agnes Maria, a Glencoe Golf Club volunteer, shows children a polypore mushroom embedded in one of the trees on June 7, 2019. (Daniel I. Dorfman/Pioneer Press)

Daniel I. Dorfman

Pioneer Press

For several hours Friday, a search was taking place at the Glencoe Golf Club.

The goal was not to find errant tee shots, instead it was to locate as many species as possible.

The golf club hosted the Audubon International Bioblitz, an event during which children ran across fairways and greens in an effort to locate the varying types of plants, animals, birds and flowers nestled in the grounds.

“It is a means for people who normally don’t play golf to come out to the golf course and showcase the environmental value of the natural habitats,” explained Stella Nanos, the golf club’s general manager.

The highlight of the event was a scavenger hunt where children could locate trees, plants and fungus while using an app to identify particular species. Prizes were awarded to the children who found the largest number.

Before they went on their quest, participants could see and learn about several birds owned by Glencoe Deputy Public Safety Chief Richard Weiner and his wife, Karen, who are members of A Refuge for Saving the Wildlife. Richard Weiner displayed two types of cockatoos.

“They are very empathic creatures, they are connected to humans and very social,” he said. “This is what they want and they want to be with you all the time.”

The Weiners also brought two owls and a pigeon they rescued two years ago. They hoped the presentation would serve as a larger lesson to both adults and children.

“Birds can make great pets,” Richard Weiner said. “But they can be difficult, and the other part is to think about the animals you don’t see outside such as owls because people put out poison for mice and the owls eat the mice and then they die from the poison.”

The Bioblitz represented a larger initiative at the golf club, a designated Audubon cooperative sanctuary. With the designation there is a responsibility for environmental engagement and educational and outreach efforts.

“We have to be good stewards of the land,” Nanos added.

As for sustainability efforts taken at the golf club, Nanos said the rainy spring has meant crews have not had to water the greens and fairways so far in 2019.

“We gather all the rainwater and the runoff and use it for our irrigation. We don’t irrigate the entire course, that is part of our dedication to Audubon International. We only irrigate a small percentage of it to save on water,” she said.

Nanos added there are eight natural areas that are not maintained or irrigated at the golf club, thereby allowing a habitat for wildlife.

Among the residents stopping by included Peter Mulvaney, a village board trustee and a member of Glencoe’s Sustainability Task Force.

Mulvaney was pleased with what he saw as he took his son out on the course for the scavenger hunt.

“It is getting people out in nature and appreciating what we have here from a natural resources perspective,” he said.

Daniel I. Dorfman is a freelance reporter.

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