Melissa Kinast joined BACT this summer as the new Executive Director. A North Barrington resident, Melissa has over 5 years of experience in a Director position within an NFP organization, along with professional experience and education largely focused on land use, public policy and management. Additionally, she brings a high level of enthusiasm for social and environmental causes and community development. Melissa has extensive experience as a real estate professional where she has had several opportunities to study and implement best practices for community planning and development. “I know there is nearly nothing more important than the preservation of open space in the lasting health and viability of a community,” Meliissa said.
Earlier this year, Kat Gerdts joined BACT as Administrative Director. Kat brings years of business management experience to the organization. She is also a passionate volunteer with a variety of local conservation and sustainability groups, including Go Green Barrington.
David Holman is acting Land Conservation Coordinator whose expertise in the strategic development of land conservation easement and trusts is guiding our preserve maintenance contractors as well as providing a knowledgeable resource for the BACT team.
Event Coordinator Julie Linnekin has designed events for organizations in Barrington since 2014, including Tartans for the Trust in 2019. She is excited to rejoin BACT for the 20th Anniversary Tartans for the Trust event planning and more.
Navraaz Basati is BACT’s Conservation@School Coordinator. Raaz has mentored the Summer Internship Program since its inception – this is the Program’s 7th year of introducing local area high school students to conservation and the Trust’s mission. Raaz will also launch BACT’s podcast series in 2021 – stay tuned!
Barrington Area Conservation Trust is delighted to announce that our annual summer event, Tartans for the Trust, is back! As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, the BACT board and staff are excited to welcome groups of all ages to join us at the Barrington Hills Park District Riding Center on August 28, 3-7 pm for an outdoor celebration – all to benefit conserving the open spaces of the Barrington area.
Tickets are available on our website, BACTrust.org! We encourage everyone to bring picnic food and beverages “Ravinia-style” with blankets, chairs and mini tables. Come in those kilts, gentlemen, and take part in our infamous Knobby Knees contest! Pat McKillen will be filling the air with music from a variety of genres. We are pleased to offer a wonderful Bourbon tasting as well as an on-site food option for those who want an easy, no-fuss event. Don’t forget to buy raffle tickets! A variety of sponsorships are still available.
BACT Summer Internship Program 2021
Summer in the preserves! Fourteen area high schools students participated in Barrington Area Conservation Trust’s 7th annual Internship Program this June. These citizen scientists honed their skills with guided hands-on activities focused on environmental conservation.
Each day of the week targeted a different topic starting with an introduction to Far Field Nature Preserve by long-time BACT supporter Mary Smith. She provided an historical narrative for the interns that recounted this property’s former agricultural life as a soybean field. Since being donated to BACT in 2016, Far Field has been restored to its native state as an oak savannah with a mixed hardwood woodland. The interns then spent the morning identifying those native plants and trees.
The rest of the week featured a day of dirt with BACT volunteer Virginia Brown, a Soil Scientist. Soil samples taken were reported to the University of Oklahoma’s Citizen Science Soil Collection Program for cataloging. The Field Museum’s Monarch Community Science Project staff were gathering data at Far Field and provided a brief training session for interested interns.
Moving from earth to water on Wednesday, interns met at Pederson Preserve and waded into drought-shallow Flint Creek to learn about the crucial importance of the Barrington Watershed. Two hundred milkweed plants were also planted courtesy of the Monarch Watch organization’s generous grant to support monarch butterfly conservation.
Back at Far Field, invasive plants were targeted and eradicated after an insightful discussion about the threat they pose to our landscape with Sarah Voska, a passionate advocate of restoration ecology who works with BlueStem Ecological Services, one of BACT’s environmental contractors.
The students finished the week with a day of reflection and horticultural therapy under the guidance of BACT’s Conservation@School Coordinator Navraaz Basati, a Certified Horticultural Therapis, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener (Univ of Illinois Extension).
As BACT strives to preserve our community’s exceptional open spaces, we also foster the next generation of land stewards. What were did this year’s interns take aways? QUOTES
If you know a high school student with a love of nature who would like to participate in our 2022 program, watch our website for information on when registration begins in the spring.
Volunteers are the backbone of Barrington Area Conservation Trust. Having so many wonderful sets of helping hands allows BACT to steward our properties much more efficiently.
Scouts step in for big projects such as Brownies helping to plant hundreds of native species on Earth Day 2021 to rejuvenate Pederson’s prairie or Girl Scouts clearing an invasive garlic mustard infestation of a woodland understory at Mondschine Wildlife Conservation Area.
Scouts also offer these creative, industrious youths the opportunity to give back to their community. Numerous Scout projects have been completed at various BACT preserves over the years.
Pederson has been upgraded with the construction of a sturdy viewing platform, a storage shed, fencing at the entrance, tall posts perfect for hanglng a banner during special events, a weather-proof sign board and a beautiful bench.
Far Field now has a firepit with seating area ideal for hosting OaktoberFest and other events, a weather-proof sign board. Just completed are gutters on the sheds plus a concrete pad for the 4 new rain barrels.
Monarch waystations have been installed throughout the Barrington area and native plant seeds have been collected and resown.
Katie’s Marsh received a wonderful boost this June with the planting of over 200 native species perfect for this wetland preserve.
Thank you ALL for your positive enthusiasm and boundless energy!
Summer Garden To-Do’s
With everything in full leaf, summer is a great time to make plans for your native garden. Invasives are easy to identify in summer – but don’t pull them out now! If they have gone to seed (as the spring bloomers have) you will only spread the seeds far and wide. All plants are at their most vigorous at this time and cutting or pulling invasives will only encourage them to resprout. Identify and tag them to be addressed in late fall, over winter or in spring, as appropriate for the species.
Take a look around. Are there “holes” in the plant arrangement? Have some things gotten too big for where they are? Sun/shade patterns may have changed as trees and shrubs have grown. Even levels of moisture may have changed. A formerly chronically wet area may now be mesic and the moisture-lovers you planted there years ago may be suffering.
Draw a map of your garden (it doesn’t need to be fine art!) and mark what’s planted where. Make notes of the conditions in the different areas. This will allow you to plan for moving plants to more suitable areas at the right time of year for that species to be moved. It will also allow you to shop for new plants to be installed in the proper season.
Need some advice? Contact us and we will schedule a Conservation@Home volunteer to meet with you, tour your garden and discuss your goals. You can even strive to become a Certified Eco-Friendly Landscape!
The year is 2001. A dedicated advocate of Barrington’s natural spaces met a woman named Mary Bradford White in the Jewel parking lot. And so, it began – BACT Founder and Board Member Elizabeth “Betsy” Bramsen has never looked back! As Barrington Area Conservation Trust celebrates 20 years of stewardship, Betsy can trace every step, every easement added, every preserve founded. All because she “wanted to be part of protecting the land in Barrington”.
“Mary and I had a similar passion to preserve the uniqueness of open land and equestrian life in Barrington Hills,” Betsy said. “We worked hard to introduce land protection measures in Barrington.” That original organization was called Barrington Hills Conservation Trust and they met around the dining room table at Mary’s house.
A Barrington Hills resident since 1969, Betsy embraced the legacy of her parents who inspired her to preserve special places. Betsy has been recognized for her dedication to the environment with several awards:
2015 inducted into the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame
2015 presented the Illinois Conservation Foundation Chairman’s Award for “Youth Conservation”
2016 the Chicago Zoological Society presented the “Outstanding Conservation Philanthropy Award”
2017 named “Philanthropist of the Year” by the West Suburban Philanthropic Network
2018 the Nature Conservancy presented the “Conservation Legacy and Achievement Award”
2019 recognized as “Citizen of the Year” for conservation work within the village of Wayne, Illinois
Betsy is active in more than a dozen conservation-minded organizations throughout Illinois and the US, including serving as a former Board Member of the Equine Land Conservation Resource, being a founding Board Member of the Wayne Area Conservancy Foundation and serving as current Vice Chair of the Board of the Chicago Zoological Society – BACT is fortunate to have her energy, insights and experience on our Board. Looking through BACT’s archive photos shows Betsy at every BACT function, often holding a microphone, welcoming guests and always with a big smile.
Barrington Concours d’Elegance
and Road Rally July 2011
Tartans for Trust
Upcoming Events ~ Save these Dates!
August 17 ~ Summer Internship Celebration
BACT interns and their families ~ Far Field Nature Preserve ~ 6-7:30 pm
August 21 ~ Come visit the BACT tent
Barrington Family Expo ~ Citizens Park ~ Noon – 4pm
August 28 ~ 20th Anniversary Tartans for the Trust ~ Tickets Available HERE!