Friends Honored for Reconnecting Mill Creek

Friends' Executive Director Margaret Frisbie (left) receives the 2021 Force of Nature Award from Lydia Scott of the Morton Arboretum.

For our exceptional work reconnecting southwest suburban Mill Creek to the Cal-Sag Channel, Friends of the Chicago River was among 12 honorees awarded the 2021 Dr. George B. Rabb Force of Nature Award by Chicago Wilderness at a ceremony last week at Thatcher Woods in River Forest. The prestigious award recognizes individuals and organizations whose dedication inspires others and contributes substantially to conservation in the Midwest.


Describing the awards ceremony as “all about inspiration” Jim Jerozal, director of energy efficiency strategy for Nicor Gas and vice-chair of Chicago Wilderness, said: “I’m inspired by the individuals and organizations we are honoring with the Force of Nature awards. They have toiled with a labor of love to do something bigger than all of us.”


“Friends could not be more honored to be among the winners of the Force of Nature Awards,” said Margaret Frisbie, Friends’ executive director. “The people and organizations are visionaries undaunted by difficulty who can imagine and make real and permanent change.” They include:

  • Leslie Borns, Montrose Beach Dunes volunteer steward
  • Ed Collins, Director of Land Preservation and Natural Resources
  • Christine Esposito, an environmental communicator and creator of Third Coast Disrupted 
  • Conrad Fialkowski, volunteer steward at Mayslake Forest Preserve of DuPage County
  • Lucy Gomez-Feliciano, community stewardship program leader with The Nature Conservancy and Chicago Park District
  • The Greater Maywood Paddling Program
  • The Heritage Quarries Recreation Area, Village of Lemont
  • The Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network
  • Stephen Packard, founder and leader of the North Branch Restoration Project
  • Wayne Schimpf, environmental educator with Waukegan Harbor Citizens’ Advisory Group and Caretakers International
  • Spring Brook Creek and Wetland Restoration, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County

Read about all the 12 honorees representing important restoration work and leadership across the region on the Chicago Wilderness website