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Neighbors of Kane County

The Batavia Arboretum rededication ceremony is Oct. 22

Sep 29, 2016 09:15AM ● By Neighbors Magazines

The members of Value Our Trees (VOT), a subgroup of the Conservation and Garden Department of the Batavia Woman’s Club, are pleased to announce a very special rededication ceremony at 10am Saturday, October 22 (rain or shine) at the Batavia Arboretum. The arboretum is located at the southwest corner of the Batavia High School property on Main Street. VOT has raised the money to purchase a permanent plaque documenting the names of those for whom memorial trees were planted in the arboretum 50 years ago. This plaque will be dedicated, along with a lovely park bench donated by the family of Mary Ann Gabriel, who is memorialized by two trees. In addition, Davey Trees will be attaching a tag to each tree identifying its genus and species. The public is invited to join in celebrating these additions to a little known community treasure. Parking is available in the BHS Main Street lot or at Batavia Covenant Church, 1314 Main St. Questions? Call Rosemary Henders at 630-406-9269.

Background Information

50 trees were planted in the newly created Batavia Arboretum between 1965 and 1968 under the guidance of Jim Hoover, a Batavia High School biology teacher who subsequently left BHS for another school district. It is said that the trees represent each of the species growing in Batavia. Of the 50 trees, 37 remain today. 28 people and 2 groups were memorialized.

In the spring of 2014, after a proposal was put forth to remove the arboretum to make way for a high school athletic field, the Conservation and Garden (C&G) Department of the Batavia Woman’s Club (BWC) formed a committee to raise community awareness of the value of trees. The group was named Value Our Trees (VOT). Members of C&G realized that many Batavians had no idea the arboretum even existed, and even those who were aware may not have realized that most of the trees were planted as a memorial to an individual or group.

One of VOT's first activities was to identify and tag 129 trees in Batavia with tags from Morton Arboretum. The diameter of each tree trunk and the species was used to calculate the value of each tree's contributions to the community and the environment in terms of air quality, energy reduction, increased property values, and carbon reduction.  This information was written on each tag, which then hung from the tree for one month. Many positive comments were made by the community.

With the permission of the Board of Education, VOT moved forward with the second phase of the project: adding signage to the arboretum in the form of:

1.    Small tags on each tree identifying its genus and species.

2.    A free-standing permanent sign listing all of the people and groups in whose memory the trees were planted.

VOT raised the funds needed to create a bronze plaque listing the names of the 28 persons and 2 groups in whose memory the trees were planted 50 years ago. During this fundraising campaign, Ray Gabriel and his family stepped forward offering to donate a park bench to be installed in the arboretum in honor of their sister, Mary Ann, who is also memorialized by two trees.

Davey Trees, in the person of Steve Matravers, offered to become a partner with VOT in completing this project. Davey is donating the genus/species tags. Steve also hopes to offer educational activities periodically at the arboretum in the same vein that we believe Jim Hoover intended. The hope is to call attention to the arboretum as a community resource and a destination for anyone wanting to learn to identify trees, how to properly plant a tree, mulch, etc., or anyone who just wants to enjoy nature close to home.