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Posted on: August 17, 2023

Plant the Gem Honored at Illinois State Fair


On Wednesday, Aug. 16, representatives and volunteers from the Village of Flossmoor presented Plant the Gem as one of four finalists in the 2023 Governor’s Hometown Awards program at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. The team — Mayor Michelle Nelson; Village Green Commission Chair Tristan Shaw; Chicago Region Trees Initiative Stewardship Coordinator Trinity Pierce; Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Commissioner and Hidden Gem Half Marathon Co-Director Brent Bachus; Village Community Relations Commission Vice Chair Jackie Riffice; Village Community Relations Commissioner Kevin Dorsey; Assistant Village Manager Jonathan Bogue; Village Arborist Dave Becker; and Village Community Engagement Manager Stephanie Wright — faced competition from the towns of Joliet, Plainfield and Pleasant Hill in the annual contest for the Governor’s Cup.

“The Plant the Gem presentation team did a fantastic job representing the Village in Springfield.  They conveyed the importance of the project and the spirit of volunteerism that helps define this Village,” says Assistant Village Manager Bogue.

While after a full day of presentations and judges’ deliberations Flossmoor was not chosen to receive the Governor’s Cup, Plant the Gem — the one-day event from last October when 300 trees were planted by 250+ volunteers all over Flossmoor — was the winner in the Division 2 Category: Population 7,501-25,000.

“I am so proud of this group and how well they represented Flossmoor in Springfield,” says Village Manager Bridget Wachtel. “Their presentation was so inspiring that other municipalities approached them for information on how to bring an event like this to their own towns. Flossmoor inspired others through volunteerism, tree planting, good will and community spirit. It was a beautiful day to showcase why Flossmoor is an exceptional place to call home.” 

More about Plant the Gem

Plant the Gem was a one-day Village of Flossmoor event — held in partnership with the Flossmoor Green Commission, the Hidden Gem Half-Marathon and the Chicago Region Trees Initiative — that saw more than 250 volunteers of all ages and abilities join together to plant more than 300 trees in parkways and parks in Flossmoor. Volunteer teams included Village residents, nature enthusiasts, local organizations and staff and students from area schools. Twelve different tree varieties, which are native to the region, were planted with help from $30,000 in federal funds, made available to the Chicago Region Trees Initiative through the support of Representative Sean Casten. The event grew out of the Village’s initiative to ensure a healthy tree canopy for the tree-lined, nearly century-old Chicago suburb.  

More about Governor’s Hometown Awards

Presented continuously from 1983 to 2014 and then from 2017 to present, the Governor’s Hometown Awards program gives formal recognition to those who contributed to projects that improved their community’s quality of life. These projects are sponsored by local units of government that had strong volunteer support, met a need and made a definitive impact, thereby generating a positive outcome in the community and by extension, the state. The program is administered by the Serve Illinois Commission, the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. The 2023 Governor’s Cup Award was given to the First Baptist Church of Pleasant Hill. 

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