Press Release

Illinois Soybean Farmers Work with Urban Conservationists to Restore Wetlands

May 09, 2018


Illinois Soybean Farmers Work with Urban Conservationists to Restore Wetlands

CHICAGO – May 9, 2018 – Every growing season, Illinois soybean farmers demonstrate their stewardship to the land and the environment. This spring, thanks to an innovative partnership the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff program has created with urban conservation groups, farmers have the opportunity to work alongside Chicagoland volunteers in a planting effort to restore the wetlands in the Calumet region.
On Saturday, June 2, the See What’s Growing On Calumet Wetlands Planting Day runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The event will take place at Indian Ridge Marsh, 11600 S. Torrence Ave., Chicago, Illinois.
“Participation in this kind of event demonstrates what soybean farmers do best – sustain the land, nurture growth and support our communities,” says Tom Kentner, ISA director and farmer from Danville. “Working with partners like the Audubon Great Lakes, The Wetlands Initiative and the Chicago Park District provides us with a unique opportunity to bring agriculture’s story to an urban audience. Additionally, bringing life back to regions of our state, such as the Calumet region, enhances the diversity of living creatures and plants. That benefits us all.”
The volume of businesses and organizations planning to participate in the See What’s Growing On Calumet Wetlands Planting Day is important to ISA as it works to build relationships with influencers with similar values and goals.
“Engaging with conservation groups in the city helps farmers tell their story in a relatable way,” says Amy Roady, ISA communications director. “Sustainable farming is a passion area for ISA and the farmers we represent. We are finding pathways to connect with influencers in ways that provide value to them and our farmers. The more we work together the more we find we share the same values and have the same goals, like building healthy soils, improving water quality and taking care of our communities.”
ISA is encouraged by the work the Audubon Great Lakes, The Wetlands Initiative and the Chicago Park District have accomplished in the three years they have worked together in the Calumet region. Now, with ISA’s involvement, urban groups will be working side by side with soybean producers to revitalize this important land for current and future generations.
“What we do on our farms isn’t very different than what conservation groups are doing in the Calumet region,” says Kentner. “We look forward to learning what is being done in this area to restore the wetlands and sharing how similar practices on the farm help to protect the soil and water.”
Volunteers will be reminded that a portion of Illinois’ soybean crop is turned into renewable fuel that reduces carbon dioxide emissions in the greater Chicago area. Eco-friendly, biodiesel-powered shuttles will provide transportation for volunteers from two Bridgeport Coffee locations in Chicago. The use of biodiesel provides another reminder of how diverse and important soybeans are to the state.
Once consisting of nearly 45,000 acres of wetlands, the Calumet region covers much of southeast Chicago and portions of northwestern Indiana. In the late 1800s, industrial development reduced its biodiversity, leaving only a patchwork of remnant wetland habitats.
“Revitalizing the Calumet region’s natural assets is gaining momentum as people become aware of the role wetlands play in protecting water supplies and improving water quality,” says Paul Botts, executive director for The Wetlands Initiative. “Native wetland plants also provide habitat for many species of birds and animals, as well as beautiful scenic spots for families to enjoy. We need volunteers to come out on June 2 and help us propel this project forward.”
To capture a firsthand look at the Calumet and engage in meaningful conversation about Illinois agriculture and the environment, go to to sign up for the event.
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, issues analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C., through the Illinois Soybean Growers. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace. For more information, visit the website
See What’s Growing On is part of Audubon Great Lakes Indian Ridge Community Stewardship Days. For more information about the Community Stewardship Days, contact Teri Valenzuela, stewardship coordinator, at, 847-894-8515.
A regional office of the National Audubon Society, Audubon Great Lakes protects birds and the places they need throughout the Great Lakes basin, today and tomorrow, using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon Great Lakes brings together community scientists and conservationists to take the lead in advocating for and managing the ecosystems that birds need to thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more about how to help at and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
Founded in 1994, the Wetlands Initiative is dedicated to restoring the wetland resources of the Midwest to improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and reduce flood damage. For more information visit
The Chicago Park District is the 2014 Gold Medal Award winner, recognized for excellence in park and recreation management across the nation. For more information about the Chicago Park District’s more than 8,300 acres of parkland, more than 600 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 12 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, nearly 50 nature areas, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs, please visit or contact the Chicago Park District at 312-742-PLAY or 312-747-2001 (TTY). Want to share your talent? Volunteer in the parks by calling 312-742-PLAY.
For more information, contact:

Amy Roady
Rachel Peabody
Sarah Duwe