Contact Us

Valerie Kehoe
Program Coordinator, Horticulture
University of Illinois Extension
8753 South Greenwood Avenue Suite 100
Chicago, IL 60619
Phone: 773-233-2900
FAX: 773-233-9183

Gemini Bhalsod
Extension Educator, Horticulture
University of Illinois Extension
1114 N. Arlington Heights Road
Suite 201
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
Phone: 847-201-4176
FAX: 847-201-4175

Susan Gasper
Extension Educator, S.T.E.M.
University of Illinois Extension
8753 South Greenwood Avenue Suite 100
Chicago, IL 60619
Phone: 773-233-2900
FAX: 773-233-9183

Nancy Kreith
Extension Educator, Horticulture
University of Illinois Extension
4747 Lincoln Mall Drive
Suite 601
Matteson, IL 60443
Phone: 708-679-6889
FAX: 708-679-6855

Conservation@Home Program

Conservation@Home Program

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Conservation@Home Cook County recognizes and certifies properties that demonstrate environmentally sound landscape practices. This program is brought to you by the partnership of Forest Preserves of Cook County and University of Illinois Extension.

Through the Conservation@Home certification program, residents and schools of Cook County have the opportunity to shape their landscapes in a conservation-minded way with guidance and criteria provided for them. Criteria for homes and schools can be downloaded below.

The biggest reward for integrating sustainable practices at your home and in your community is being aware that you are contributing to clean water, rich soil and resilient ecosystems that support people and wildlife. The Conservation@Home certificate recognizes yards and sites that are conscientiously improving their area for the environment and humanity.

In 2019, Conservation@Home in Cook County expanded to include schools. To review certification criteria for schools please click here

For more information, please contact Val Kehoe at or 773.233.2900.

Conservation@Home is a program of The Conservation Foundation. University of Illinois Extension is pleased to be a partner.

Have Your Land in Cook County Evaluated

For a one-time fee of $50, certified home and school gardeners will receive a Conservation@Home sign to post in their yard/schoolyard, a subscription to our seasonal newsletter, and receive early notifications of upcoming plants sales and Conservation@Home programs in the Forest Preserves. *Fee waivers are available for those with financial need.

Before applying, please review Conservation@Home Criteria. To apply for Conservation@Home certification click here.

Certification Process

1. Resident/school submits application online

2. C@H Coordinator reviews application and consults with resident/school

3. If it is determined that the resident/school is ready for an on-site visit, $50 fee is submitted

4. Evaluator conducts phone interview and schedules visit, to last approximately one hour

5. Yard is evaluated and if certifiable, C@H sign is awarded

6. Resident/school begins receiving C@H perks

Upcoming FREE Programs

Conservation@Home Program Overview and Utilizing Natives Plants in the Landscape

Thursday, June 13th 7 – 9 p.m.

Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens, Palos Heights

Learn how the Conservation@Home program can support and recognize your sustainable landscape practices. Gain knowledge on selecting the best native plant species for your yard and soil conditions. Participants are encouraged to bring photos and layouts of their yard for native garden design consultation. Register here.

The Down and Dirty: Building Better Soils

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, Willow Springs

Saturday, 6/15 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Ever wonder what makes ‘good’ soil? Or how to create healthy soils in your landscape? Join University of Illinois Extension Conservation@Home team as we explore the soil science for native, ornamental plantings, in time for this growing season. Program is free but, registration is required. Please click here to register.

Please plan on bringing a soil sample(s) from your yard.  Instructions for collecting a soil sample can be found here.

Tree Planting Tips and Demonstration

Saturday, June 22nd 10 a.m.

Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens, Palos Heights

Join Illinois Extension staff as they share techniques for planting and caring for trees followed by a demonstration of proper planting procedures for trees. Class limit 20. Register here.

DOWNLOAD Criteria Below