Dinner on the prairie

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Carriage and wagon rides through the prairie at Nygren were part of the entertainment at the annual Natural Land Institute fundraising event held at Nygren Wetlands and Preserve, 3190 W. Rockton Rd.

The sun came out just in time for a Party on the Prairie, a fundraising event at Nygren Wetlands, Saturday, July 16. Prairie flowers were in full bloom across the landscape as guests made their way to the open-air tent for cocktails provided by Prairie Street Brewing Co. The Rockford brewery introduced their special craft beer – Pollinator Pale Ale with sales benefitting NLI.

A sumptuous dinner was catered by Greenfire Restaurant.

The evening included wagon and carriage rides through the prairie, and a silent auction following dinner.

Live music was provided by Jon Bon Stamos, whose style and harmony were reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel.



Natural Land Institute (NLI) President Paul Baits and NLI member Dan Williams introduced the recipient of this year’s George and Barbara Fell Award – Mr. Fran Harty, one of the States foremost conservationists.

Harty has been involved in wildlife conservation projects throughout the United States. 

One of Harty’s most significant accomplishments was crafting and gathering support for the passage of the Illinois Natural Areas Stewardship Act that now provides grants for stewardship for Illinois land trust organizations.

The 721 acre Carl and Myrna Wetlands Preserve was purchased by Natural Land Institute in 2000 through a generous gift from the estate of Carl Nygren. The NLI restored the former farm fields into wetlands, woodlands and prairies. Restoration of the land has increased habitats for dozens of wildlife and plant species. 

Nygren Wetland Preserve is located at 3190 W. Rockton Road, Rockton, Illinois and is open to the public. Nature enthusiasts are free to walk the 2.5 mile Dianne Nature Trail on the property. A variety of programs and classes are available to children and adults throughout the year.

 Karen Arce looks over the items being offered during the Party on the Prairie fundraising event at Nygren Wetland and Preserve, July 16, 2022.

 (L to R) Tiffany Stamm, Vaughan Stamm, Lori Wallace and Scott Wallace were among the guests attending the Party on the Prairie at Nygren Wetland and Preserve on Saturday, July 16, 2022.  The annual fundraising event has returned this year after a three-year hiatus due to COVID.

Denise Schardt and her husband Kevin enjoyed a cocktail before sitting down to a sumptuous dinner on the grounds of Nygren Wetland and Preserve.

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