A perfect summer afternoon on the prairie at Nygren Wetlands


The music of Kelly Steward and Co. and 3 Good Men, Pat Dougherty and Greg Whitsel entertained guests at the Wine and Brew fundraiser held at Nygren Wetland Preserve, Saturday, July 15, 2023.

As guests arrived at Nygren Wetland on Saturday afternoon, July 15, 2023, music by Kelly Steward and Co, featuring 3 Good Men band members Pat Dougherty and Greg Whitset, could be heard.

Many guests wore summer shorts and sundresses to the casual out-door party on the prairie, called Wine & Brew at the Wetland. The Natural Land Institute owns and manages the Nygren Wetland.

As befitting the theme, beer and wine and were provided by Prairie Street Brewing Co. and Reed Sjostrom, Carlyle Brewing Co., Urban Forest Craft Brewers, and Bruce Hammond.

Natural and organic wine and whiskeys were provided by Artale and Co.

Guests sampled bruschetta, fruit skewers, grilled sausage bites, and watermelon with balsamic drizzle from Greenfire.

A portion of the proceeds support Nygren Wetland Preserves.

Guests could enjoy guided walks or stroll on their own through the prairie and wetland.

Alan Branhagen, the new Natural Land Institute executive director, made his debut at the event. Kerry Leigh recently retired after 10 years at the helm.

Branhagen returns to Rockford after serving as the director of horticulture for Powell Gardens in Kansas City, Kansas. He also served as director of operations at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Branhagen was deputy director for the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County in the 90’s. He was responsible for planning, acquisition and the design of Forest Preserves and was instrumental in starting Klehm Arboretum in Rockford, IL.

Sponsors of the annual fundraising event are Cindy Campbell; Gibbons Electric; Midwest Packaging and Container; Specialty Screw Corp; Paul and Teri Baits, an anonymous friend, and Studio GWA.

Nygren Wetlands is located at 3714 West Rockton Road, Rockton, IL.

Beer from Urban Forest Beer in Rockford was among the brew choices offered at the Nygren Wetlands- Natural Land Institute fundraiser, July 15, 2023

Green Fire Restaurant in Rockford provided a variety of finger food for guests attending the annual outdoor party at Nygren Wetlands, July 15, 2023. The 721-acre preserve is located at 3714 West Rockton, Road, Rockton, IL.

Allen Branhagen made his debut as the Executive Director of the National Land Institute and Nygren Wetlands Preserve at the Wine & Brew fundraising event, July 15, 2023
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