Nathan Slaven, 14, has lived in Chicago and China, but has truly found a “home” in Cherokee Park. He signed up to volunteer at the Thursday night Tree Triage event this past summer to fulfill his high school service hours requirement, but long after his hours were completed he continued to volunteer.
Nathan’s whole face lights up when he talks about volunteering in Cherokee Park. He describes the thrill of being able to identify native and invasive species in the park and the satisfaction of saving trees from the choke hold of invasive vines. Only missing a couple of volunteer sessions all summer, he became very knowledgeable about the woodlands in Cherokee Park. Matt Spalding, who led the Thursday night volunteer sessions, said Nathan was a great asset because he could independently complete tasks allowing the park crew leaders to spend more time with less experienced volunteers.
Nathan can tell you his favorite tree in Cherokee Park (a giant Burr Oak) and says he has a special affection for the woodlands between Ledge Road and Willow Pond, a result of the many hours he spent working in that area. His volunteer experience also motivated him to plant a much more extensive backyard garden this summer than his family had previously attempted and has deepened his interests in biology and botany. Nathan is so enthusiastic about his experience this summer he plans to encourage fellow members of St. X Environmental Club to attend volunteer events in the Olmsted Parks.
Thank you, Nathan, for your service and commitment to the Olmsted Parks.