Over the last decade, JDCF has worked hard to greatly expanded our stewardship capacity. From 1 dedicated staff member using a DR push mower and a well-used, donated truck to a staff of 8, a fleet of vehicles including heavy equipment, and the many tools necessary to do the work, a new space was needed to house stewardship that meets modern workplace standards. Until now, a remote location in an unheated, unplumbed shed at Portage was used, making for cold winters and long days in the heat of summer.

This all changed with the grand opening of the new Stewardship Shop, located just 2 blocks from JDCF’s offices in Elizabeth. The shop has room for staff expansion and includes proper chemical and equipment storage, maintenance bay, and last but certainly not least, running water and heat. JDCF used contractors from Elizabeth and surrounding Jo Daviess County to construct every aspect of this new building.

Financial support for the new shop came from the Estate of Catherine and Bruce Hoff, the Grand Victoria Foundation, Estate of Mary Ellen Herbert, the Jane Addamsland Park Foundation, and Fran Peterson. In-kind gifts of professional services and labor were given by Joe and Maureen Bardusk, Vincent Earthmoving, Ted Harms, and the Village of Elizabeth.

Stewardship staff now cares for 2,000 acres of land. Alongside volunteers, they carry out natural area restorations on both JDCF preserves as well as other public and private lands. They build and maintain over 50 miles of public hiking trails. They are also responsible for keeping our public preserves in pristine condition through mowing, weeding, and making sure public amenities are in good condition. All of this requires a professional staff with the right equipment – and now – a safe and modern workspace to house them in.

The new shop is located at 230 E Chicago Street, two blocks down and on the left from the Apple River Fort Interpretive Center in Elizabeth. If you are in town, stop by and check it out!