Starting today, March 18, Keeler Gardens needs your help to secure our spot to be considered for a grant up to $100K!
Keeler Gardens has qualified to compete in USA Today’s “A Community Thrives” Challenge: at stake is over $100,000 in grant awards! However, we need to raise at least $3,000 in four weeks to be considered for the first place award, with weekly benchmark goals for additional awards.
We are asking all our supporters to consider donating now, even if it is just the $10 minimum donation, you can go right to our CrowdRise page for all the details. The official site is https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/keeler-gardens-nfp-illinois but we’ve made a shortcut http://bit.ly/KGcrUSA that is easier to remember. Only donations made through this site and with a credit card will be counted towards the challenge.
Here is how you can help.
- Go to our campaign on CrowdRise by clicking on this link http://bit.ly/KGcrUSA.
- Click the Donate Button to donate the minimum $10.
- Share the campaign with your network.
From March 18, through April 12 only, any donations made through Keeler Gardens’ CrowdRise campaign will count toward our $3,000 minimum fundraising goal. We have four weeks to meet the minimum by the end of the challenge period, then we are ranked by how many dollars we raised. First, second, and third place will win $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000 respectively.
There are also Weekly Incentives to drive our fundraising efforts. Each week during the challenge we are ranked for dollars raised or the highest number of individual donations made and can win an additional $2,000-$5,000 depending on the week. (See below for more details)
As you can see there is great potential with this challenge and all it will take is a little help from you. If there ever was a time to donate to Keeler Gardens, this is it. Please consider a $10 donation, or donate $10 each week to help us with the weekly challenges. We need as much support as we can get.
We know you value Keeler Gardens and its mission. Please share our campaign with your network as you know many that will benefit from our programs and believe that nature is a critical catalyst in our lives. Ask them to share with as many people as they can think of. The more people we reach and the more funds we raise the greater chance we have to win multiple awards. We would be happy to talk to anyone that wants more information about our mission and vision and you can certainly send them to our website KeelerGardens.com.
As always, we thank you for your continued support.
With infinite gratitude,
Ed & Gina
The details on the campaign challenges are as follows. We are focused on the following two weeks: Week #1 to make a strong start and Week #2 to show the grantors that we have a strong community support base that believes in our mission.
Weekly Challenge #1:
If we raise the most funds from Mon. 3/18/19 @12:00:00 pm ET through Mon. 3/25/19 @11:59:59 am ET we win $2000
Weekly Challenge #2:
If we have the highest number of eligible donations from Mon. 3/25/19 @12:00:00 pm ET through Mon. 4/1/19 @11:59:59 am ET we win $3,000
Bonus Challenge #3:
If we raise the most funds from Mon. 4/1/19 @12:00:00 pm ET through Mon. 4/8/19 @11:59:59 am ET we win $5000
Bonus Challenge #4:
If we have the highest number of eligible donations from Mon. 3/25/14/8/19 @12:00:00 pm ET through Fri. 4/12/19 @11:59:59 am ET we win $3,000
2018 was a busy year for Keeler Gardens! The highlight of this year was the opening of our Pollinator Habitat, a year-round refuge for pollinators featuring Illinois native plants. And speaking of pollinators, our bee hives were successful this first year. We definitely benefited from the help of our six Chicago Tech Academy interns in the spring and our seven summer interns. We hosted programs, like the Flower Arrangement Class and our Pollinator Celebration at Keeler Gardens, and we presented to the Highland Park Garden Guild and at the Chicago Botanic Garden Nature Play Event. Read on for details about each of these exciting programs and presentations.
Chicago Tech Academy Interns
In February we were proud to welcome six interns from Chicago Tech Academy! Chicago Tech Academy is a great charter school, with a mission to educate, empower, and help students discover their passions, succeed in college, and thrive in a digital world. They particularly stress engaging in real-world learning and work with 100+ partners such as DDB, Vibes Media, Gogo Air, CNA Insurance, and now Keeler Gardens, to provide students with early exposure to work-based learning and internships. These six interns came from Chicago Tech to gain hands-on experience in botany, horticulture, technology, and art. Over the month of February, this crew completed art projects, supported our social media plan, photographed the site, organized digital files, and designed a garden. We thank all of the interns for their hard work in the winter as it set the stage for the rest of the year.
The Keeler Gardens Educational Pollinator Habitat
One of the biggest
On August 4 we opened our Pollinator Habitat with our Pollinator Celebration, which was a great success!
Over the summer we were also fortunate to host seven interns! Four of them participated through privately funded internships, and the other three through the After School Matters summer internship program. After School Matters works with more than 23,000 companies to provide jobs for more than 15,000 teens across Chicago every year. This program is a great way for nonprofits and other businesses to help Chicago’s youth, and it was a great way for us to find teens that want to connect with nature. Throughout their internship, the interns worked on planting a plethora of plants in the new Pollinator Habitat. Thanks to these interns, the Pollinator Habitat successfully opened on August 4.
The Big Buzz, Honey!
We were very fortunate to partner with Sloanstead Honey. They installed and managed two hives on top of our shed. They harvested Keeler Gardens Honey at the end of the season and we plan to have honey every year!
2018 has come and gone, but we are excited to continue building on the Pollinator Habitat and tackling more projects in 2019. This year we want to welcome more volunteers to Keeler Gardens. Our focus is to continue to build community through nature. Make sure to sign up for our email list or follow us on Facebook to be the first to hear about events such as Fridays by the Fire, a trip to The Epcot™ International Flower and Garden Festival, and sharing our story at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show.
Do you need a little more nature? Then head to Keeler Gardens and sit in a rocking chair, look for the community cats, or knock on the door for a cup of tea with Keeler Gardens Sloanstead Honey. We look forward to expanding our community this year!
The Keeler Gardens Pollinator Habitat Is Taking Shape
This summer we have been continuing our work on our new Pollinator Habitat, with the valued help of our seven interns and many volunteers, planting a multitude of Illinois native plants and working on a variety of hardscapes. We have all been laboring to get perennials and annuals installed in not only an aesthetically pleasing design, but also in a layout that will support the pollinators. Plants are grouped in large masses so pollinators have plenty to choose from. Annuals and perennials are planted both in the ground and in containers to offer pollen, nectar, and foliage at different heights, and native shrubs are scattered throughout the space to solidify structure.
Also included in the plans are hardscapes such as flat stones for steppers and edging, and boulders anchoring corners. Stepping stones are staggered throughout the Habitat to allow visitors the opportunity to examine plants and pollinators up close. A narrow brick path lines the curb separating the Habitat from the street. This path is constructed of reclaimed antique paving bricks, drawing from Chicago history. Substantial boulders are painted by a local artist Paula Clayton with educational information.
In addition to the formal Pollinator Habitat, Keeler Gardens supports pollinators throughout our entire space. We are part of the Monarch Waystation Program, a Certified Wildlife Habitat, and host two bee hives. Already we have seen pollinators visit – butterflies, moths, caterpillars, and many different bees. You may have seen a few pictures of caterpillars that our interns found and we posted on our Facebook page. We are looking forward to seeing them grow, and supporting them in the Habitat. We will also be including pollinator “hotels”, offering guests the opportunity to learn to build their own creations.
We are so grateful to all those that have supported us in this endeavor, The Mulch Center providing extraordinary top soil and leaf mulch, Midwest Groundcovers supplying us with a multitude of top quality native plants, Krügel Cobbles for all the stone and brick in the Habitat, and Lurvey Garden Center for continued supplies of all types.
Again we thank Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation for the funding to create the Pollinator Habitat. As part of their K-12 Schools Program we will be hosting our Pollinator Celebration on Saturday, August 4, 2018 from 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. It will be an afternoon filled with pollinators and the plants that support them, information on the Habitat and upcoming programs, and tours and interactive opportunities for all ages. Visit our Facebook Event Page for more information and regular updates.
Keeler Gardens Visits the 2019 Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival
Saturday, May 4, 2019, through Saturday, May 11, 2019
UPDATE JANUARY 28, 2019: LIMITED SPACES STILL AVAILABLE…
Join Keeler Gardens for a week at one of the most extraordinary flower and garden festivals in the country: the Epcot® International Flower and Garden Festival at Walt Disney World! This isn’t your typical flower and garden show. It offers an unimaginable collection of gardens, themes, and interactions, and we’re incredibly excited to be able to offer this opportunity to our community.
Keeler Gardens has been attending the Epcot® International Flower and Garden Festival for many years, gathering knowledge that we will now be sharing with you over one very special week. Let us guide you through the many gardens on display, allowing us to educate you on all the magical details that will truly connect you with the plants and people of this enchanting special event.
As your hosts, Keeler Gardens will be at your disposal for guided tours during a portion of each day, with your late afternoons and evenings free to take advantage of all Disney has to offer. Every stop will impart an appreciation for the many different displays, cultures, and hidden gems throughout the festival and beyond. We will immerse you in butterflies, visit each country in the World Showcase, and explore Disney’s environmental commitment. We will also offer suggestions and tips for maximizing your enjoyment of Walt Disney World.
Keeler Gardens has partnered with Vacation Village at Parkway in Kissimmee and Michelle Buchecker at DreamFinder Travel for an excellent offer on accommodations and theme park tickets. Stay in an apartment-like unit with a full kitchen, bath, king bed, and laundry facilities, just a 10-minute ride from Walt Disney Resort property. Along with the comfort of these unique rooms, you will have the luxury of a pool, hot tub, and sun deck.
▪ One-bedroom unit for seven nights
▪ 7-day pass with Park Hopper, to offer the most flexibility (ages 10 and up)
▪ Keeler Gardens knowledge, expertise, and our personal attention as we guide you through your festival experience
▪ Welcome Reception
▪ Keeler Gardens Tour Kit
Package price is $965 per person, based on double occupancy.
To reserve your package through Keeler Gardens, contact Gina at Gina@KeelerGardens.com.
A nonrefundable deposit of $250 will be due upon booking to confirm your accommodations. Final payment will be due within one month of booking.
Prices are subject to change until paid in full.
Guests will be responsible for their own airfare, transportation, and meals. There is limited daily transportation available from the hotel to the Walt Disney World Resort.
If you have any questions about the packages, options, or the festival please contact Gina at Gina@KeelerGardens.com.
This summer, Keeler Gardens is proud to say we have seven new interns working and learning with us! Four of them are participating through privately funded internships, and three we host through the After School Matters summer internship program.
After School Matters works with more than 23,000 companies to provide jobs for more than 15,000 teens across Chicago every year. Their program is a great way for nonprofits and other businesses to help Chicago’s youth, and it’s a great way for Keeler Gardens to find teens that want to connect with nature.
Our new interns are taking on their jobs like champs! Their first week at Keeler Gardens was excellent weather for working outside, if a little hot, so they mainly worked on planting bulbs and other plants in the new Pollinator Habitat.
They’ve made so much progress on the Habitat that it’s coming along ahead of schedule, and we’re very excited to see how far it’s come. The Pollinator Habitat will be officially open on Saturday, August 4, 2018 for our Pollinator Celebration Day, and you may have the opportunity to meet some of our interns. They’re all looking forward to meeting the community and growing with Keeler Gardens this summer!
Volunteer to Connect with Nature
Keeler Gardens is growing – plants, habitats, and programs. With this grow comes quite a bit of work and we could really use your help. Are you looking for a way to connect with nature? Maybe you are looking for a chance to take a break in a soothing setting while giving back to the community; or you are hoping to make your thumb a little greener. If you have a desire to learn and share skills we have an opportunity for you…volunteer with us at Keeler Gardens.
Spring Volunteer Orientation at Keeler Gardens
Saturday, May 12, 2018
10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Our volunteer orientation meeting will to introduce you to the work we are doing at Keeler Gardens and how you might be able to help. Join us for a tour of the space, a short, informal presentation on our programs, and information on the many ways you can volunteer with us. You can visit with us just to get to know us and the space, and if you decide you want to volunteer we will find a great fit for your skills and desires.
If for some reason you cannot attend please contact us at any time to learn more about our volunteer program (firstname.lastname@example.org). Visit our website to see a list of all the areas in which we need help, from activities in the garden to supporting roles both on-site and off.
Are you interested in hummingbirds? Keeler Gardens has dedicated a space specifically for hummingbirds. Help us make sure they have the food and water they need, and can find the garden from high above. Would you like to learn how we give our plants the best change to be as healthy as possible? Throughout the year Keeler Gardens offers all our plants the opportunity to thrive. This takes regular monitoring and care. Help support a complete, dedicated program that will connect you with nature as you care for a myriad of plant species. Or do you just want to get outside, at any time of the year? There is always something to do at Keeler Gardens, every month finds us staying connected with nature with simple tasks and large projects.
So join us on Saturday, May 12, at 10:00 a.m. to learn a little, work a little, and connect with nature and the community. We have space for about 30 people at this orientation and we would be thrilled to see you there. You can respond directly via email or to our Facebook event. And please fill out this quick questionnaire (click here) to let us know how you would be interested in participating.
Flowers and Foliage on Saturday, March 10, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.
Join us at Keeler Gardens for an afternoon of flowers and foliage. We will have an abundance of dried flowers and branches for you to choose from, like eucalyptus, yarrow, birch, dogwood, and some unique accents, too.
Although there is no formal registration, please do RSVP as we only can accommodate 20 participants, and consider a suggested donation of $20.
And here is a little example, one of several arrangements we put together that you can see at Backlot Coffee in Old Irving Park.
We look forward to seeing you on March 10 at Keeler Gardens!
Real-World Work Experience Internships
We are proud to welcome SIX interns from Chicago Tech Academy. Instead of us telling you about them and their school, we are going to let them tell you a little about themselves, the internship program, and Chicago Tech. So, without further ado, here is Eric to let you know a little bit about himself and Chi-Tech.
My name is Eric and I am a senior at Chicago Tech. Currently I’m taking the school’s Introduction to Engineering class and a music class called Beginning Guitar. One thing I am hoping to get out of my internship at Keeler Gardens is to learn more about the basics of engineering. Another thing I enjoy doing at Keeler Gardens is inventory projects and the irrigation project.
Our school is Chicago Tech Academy. The school’s mission is to get all the students ready for college through four years of attendance. The school offers great clubs and very engaging classes. One club that really stands out to me personally is Young Men Leadership. The purpose of the club is to teach the young men how to be leaders and specifically leaders in the school. The school’s main focus is on technology. Our school is unique in that everything we do is Project-Based-Learning, with a strong, and deep educational foundation. Another great thing about Chicago Tech is it offers a great class called Entrepreneurship where they teach us as students to become business owners and to learn more about the different types of incomes in business. Chicago Tech is very small compared to other high schools in Chicago, but that’s not such a bad thing because it gives the students more one on one time with teachers when they need the extra help after school or during class.
My name is Frank, I’m a senior at Chicago Tech and have seen many students and teachers come and go throughout our school and I can honestly say it has been an honor to have been taught by great teachers and alongside other great, prosperous students. I cannot wait to graduate from our school, but I can say that I will miss going to school and seeing my favorite teachers and classmates. The things I like about my internship is that I am exploring Biology and Botany. The thing that I love about Keeler Gardens is that we have great cats to keep us company throughout the day.
My name is Luis. I’m a senior at Chicago Tech and I have attended for all four of my high school years. I am a contemporary artist. My favorite class is art. The reason I chose Keeler Gardens is because they have a lot of art projects to do and I can learn how to promote a business on social media. I want to learn more about how I can promote my original artwork.
My name is Cottrell Hopson, I am a senior at Chicago Tech Academy. I like to try new things, that’s why I am interested in Keeler Gardens. They offer experiences that are completely new to me, like honing steel and organizing material. I also want to learn more about how plants grow.
My name is Andrew Gonzalez, I am a senior at Chicago Tech Academy. I love to play soccer, play my guitar, carve wood, work with my hands, and listen to and mix music. I intern at Keeler Gardens and one of the projects I will be working on is creating a blog post about the partners of Keeler Gardens.
My name is Kaitlyn, I’m a senior at Chicago Tech. I have had such a fast high school experience and I’m excited but in shock that this is my last year . Throughout high school I have had ups and downs and I did a lot of things that I never thought I would be interested in doing, like dissecting a pig or a frog, and learning about how to improve the environment. That part is related to my Internship because plants help the environments, I like my internship because it’s fun and we are learning about more than I thought we would and I can’t wait to learn more about plants and other natural things!
There you have it. Over the month of February this crew will be hard at work designing art projects, taking care of social media, photography, organizing, and planning projects. Make sure to keep an eye open especially on our social media channels as the students will be posting updates on their progress over on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and maybe they’ll show us how to use Snap Chat too!
Keeler Gardens along with our interns would like to thank two of our partners, Backlot Coffee and LaVilla, as they have been subsidizing and donating food and coffee for our interns throughout the month.
If you would like to learn more about Chicago Tech and their internship program you can email me directly at Ed@KeelerGardens.com.
Please come out and visit us and our interns at Keeler Gardens, and take the time to #ConnectWithNature today.