Natural Landscape and Educational Project

First Presbyterian Church in Danville has received a $5,000 grant for a natural landscape and educational project.  The funds will be used to create an environmental area of trees and plants in the land just north of the church building at 100 N. Franklin.

The funding is a subaward grant from Faith in Place funded through The Lumpkin Family Foundation.

“Faith in Place is an environmental non-profit that works with communities of faith across Illinois to educate, connect, and advocate for healthier communities,” said Rev. Cindy Shepherd, Faith in Place Central Illinois Outreach Director.

The project will utilize nature-based climate action landscaping strategies.  Much of the work will be done by First Presbyterian church members and other volunteers.  Church member Claudia Ferrell is a Master Gardner and will coordinate the project. First Presbyterian also has other members who are gardening experts. Stan Hardy and Frank Smith are Master Gardeners and Mary Hardy is a Master Naturalist.

“The project will implement natural landscaping including, but not limited to, planting trees, a pollinator garden, and native perennial plants,” said Ferrell. “The project is concerned with improving air quality by planting more trees, particularly native species, because natives thrive rather than just exist.”

First Presbyterian also will present at least two educational events about the project.  These events will be free and open to the public.  They will show how the project is beneficial to the area or the environmental aspects of certain trees and plants. Dates for those presentations have not been set.  

“This project is a wonderful opportunity for us to be faithful to God’s call to be good stewards of the creation,” said Rev. Ann Schwartz, Pastor of First Presbyterian. “Planting trees is a holy and hopeful act. They provide refuge for birds and animals, shade for the neighborhood, and beauty and oxygen for us all.”

First Presbyterian has a history of environmental awareness. It is the only church to ever win the Illinois Sustainability Award presented by the University of Illinois. First Presbyterian won the award for its innovative efforts to replace old, inefficient lights, heating, air conditioning, and windows.

Ferrell says the church also has benefited from volunteer efforts and donations to keep the entire church property attractive.

“The gift of four Sunset Blaze Maples by an anonymous donor several years ago shows that our congregation cares about the environment as well as landscaping the church grounds” said Ferrell. 

It is hoped that work on the project will begin in April.  The timeline depends on the weather and the availability of certain trees.