Party on the Prairie Rocks! benefits Nygren Wetland Preserve


Photo: Jill Kinnay

Natural Land Institute will hold a fundraiser for their Nygren Wetland Preserve called “Party on the Prairie Rocks!” on Sat., July 16, 2022, 4:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at Nygren Wetland Preserve, 3190 W. Rockton Road, Rockton, Illinois. 

“We haven’t held this fundraiser since 2019 so we’re very excited to bring it back for our guests to enjoy a summer evening in the casual and natural setting of a prairie filled with midsummer wildflowers,” said Kim Johnsen, NLI’s Director of Marketing & Membership.

Reservations are required by Friday, July 8 by calling 815-964-6666 or online at

The event starts at 4:00 p.m. with horse-drawn wagon rides through the prairie. The cocktail hour starts at 5:00 p.m. with lively music by regional band Jon Bon Stamos, a self-described “stolk folk” band (rock music with a banjo). A cash bar will be provided by Prairie Street Brewing Co., which is also offering a special craft brew called Pollinator Pale Ale to benefit Nygren Wetland Preserve.

At 6:00 p.m. a short program will include the presentation of the George and Barbara Fell Award to Fran Harty. This award recognizes outstanding land conservation and preservation efforts. Fran has had a distinguished career in protecting and managing natural areas in Illinois. He is currently employed as the Director of Terrestrial Conservation for the Illinois Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Dinner will be served by Greenfire Restaurant at 6:30 and a nature-themed silent auction will be available throughout the event and concludes after dinner.

Photo: Mark Blassage

The Carl & Myrna Nygren Wetland Preserve is the largest wildlife sanctuary, at 721 acres, that is owned by the Natural Land Institute. The land was purchased in 2000 through a major gift by the Carl & Myrna Nygren Estate, grants and individual donors. Restoration began soon after the land was acquired and now there are upland sand prairies, lowland prairies, wetlands, bottomland forest, oxbow lakes and ponds in the preserve. Raccoon Creek runs through the preserve and the Rock and Pecatonica Rivers flow along its borders. The Dianne Nora Nature Trail is a free 2.5 mile hiking trail around the wetland and is part of the Prairie State Hike app (99¢ in the Apple Store or Google Play). The public entrance, trail head, wildlife overlook and parking lot are located at 3714 W. Rockton Rd., Rockton, Ill.

The Natural Land Institute, an accredited conservation land trust, is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization based in Rockford, Illinois, which has protected 18,000 acres of natural land in Illinois since 1958. The current service area covers twelve counties in northern Illinois. NLI’s mission is to create an enduring legacy of natural land in northern Illinois for people, plants and animals.

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