For almost two years, Hoopeston Rotary members have been working with city and park officials, to bring a little more beauty into McFerren Park. The local Rotary began working on a grove of trees, and flowering berm in 2017 after a challenge was made by national Rotary leadership to plant one tree in your local community for every Rotary member. At the same time, the Hoopeston chapter began discussing ways to make its presence more visible in the community, and to leave a lasting impact for years to come.

One year later, the Rotary had successfully planted a beautiful flowering berm in the Northeast corner of McFerren Park. In 2019, the berm was complimented by the addition of ornamental grasses and arborvitae which were planted behind the berm. The berm includes the large Rotary rock, a bench for seating, and many beautiful perennial shrubs and flowers to make that corner of the park a beautiful setting for people to visit and enjoy and it has been a favorite spot for photographs. However, the group knew that this project didn’t completely meet their tree planting challenge. Staying focused on McFerren Park, the club knew that due to disease and wind damage the park has lost over 70 trees. The park has been active in replacing trees, with their goal of planting 2 for every one that has been lost. It is estimated that over 30 were planted this summer by the park. However, with so many destroyed, Rotary saw an opportunity to help with the replacement.

In May 2019, the group started to gather donations from its members. With the permission of Alderman Alex Houmes, park employee, Bobby Pierce accepted the task of procuring, planting and nurturing trees in the newly formed “Rotary Grove” south of the Girl Scout House. By the end of September, 14 trees had been planted which include a Kentucky coffee tree, Sun Valley red maples, red buds, Kousa dogwoods, Prairie gold aspens, Ivory silk lilacs, Paperbark maple, Katsura, Canada red cherry and several more. Bobby selected trees that will provide beauty in all seasons, focusing on flowering trees for spring and summer, and trees that will add color with their fall foliage. Using many diverse types of trees adds uniqueness to the grove, and the diversity will help prevent disease.

Rotary members plan to continue working with the park department to add more trees, seating areas, and greenery to both these areas. The club will make sure they are maintained for years to come. If you would like more information on how you can get involved with the Hoopeston Rotary email Jim Bowers at bowz2011@gmail.com.