Barrington High School alum leads garden planting project as part of Eagle Scout project

By Karie Angell Luc

Pioneer Press

Jun 28, 2022 at 12:11 pm

Volunteers planted June 10, 2022 in the Phoebe Snetsinger Garden in Hawthorn Woods at Community Park. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)

A new perennial pollinator garden has been installed at Community Park in Hawthorn Woods.

The garden was planted June 10. Kyle Wanca, 18, who graduated from Barrington High School this school year, made the garden his Eagle Scout project with Barrington Boy Scout Troop 10.

The garden, with 1,000 new plantings, is called the Phoebe Snetsinger Garden. Phoebe Snetsinger was the daughter of advertising entrepreneur Leo Burnett. She grew up in Hawthorn Woods and attended Lake Zurich High School.  Snetsinger was a birder and is said to have been the first person in the world to see and identify more than 8,000 bird species, according to community organizers involved with helping to bring the garden to the area.

Wanca said the Eagle Scout garden project, which started in planning last January, is about, “remembering people and what they did and what they brought to society.

“It’s important just to remember people who made significant contributions to our communities,” Wanca said.

The garden will feature a metal engraved plaque recognizing ornithologist Snetsinger who died in November 1999.

“We’re delighted that it’s honoring a really wonderful person and that kind of legacy is being sustained,” said Brian Sullivan, Hawthorn Woods director of parks and recreation.

“We love the fact that it’s going to be pollinator-friendly, meaning that we’re going to be able to have monarchs here, a bunch of bees, hummingbirds,” Sullivan said. “It will grow and become a cornerstone for the park.”

In a statement, the Snetsinger family offered their gratitude for the tribute garden.

“We’re so delighted that the legacy of our mother’s love for nature will live on in Hawthorn Woods. This garden will no doubt inspire the future generation of naturalists,” read the statement, which came from Snetsinger’s children, Penny, Tom, Marmot and Susan.

Wanca connected with Pam Self, of Hawthorn Woods, and Shari Gullo, of Lake Zurich, co-founders of the Phoebe Snetsinger Garden project and the Ela Peace Project.

Self is a landscape architect and designer of the Phoebe Snetsinger Garden.

“You always have to identify what’s an appropriate project for an Eagle Scout,” Self said, “and we had this project as part of the (Ela) peace project. … We needed to get that (garden) in first and so, we brought it here.”

Alicia Timm, of Lake Zurich, an avid home gardener, was among volunteers planting native perennials such as liatris (Blazing Star) and two types of milkweed (for monarch butterflies).

“With native plants, the first year they sleep, the second year they creep and the third year they leap,” Timm said. “It will be so fun for them (youth volunteers) to come back in two and three years when the plants really leap.”

William Dowell, 18, of Barrington, left, works with other volunteers to plant June 10, 2022 in the Phoebe Snetsinger Garden in Hawthorn Woods at Community Park. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)

Volunteers did planting June 10, 2022 in the Phoebe Snetsinger Garden at Community Park in Hawthorn Woods as part of a Eagle Scout project led by Kyle Wanca, 18, a 2022 graduate of Barrington High School. The garden pays tribute to the late Snetsinger, who was a birder, Hawthorn Woods resident and Lake Zurich High School alum. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)

Kyle Wanca raised more than $2,000 for the garden. Midwest Groundcovers of St. Charles assisted, donating plants.

“We cannot say enough about the Hawthorn Woods Public Works Department and Parks and Rec because they’re helping Kyle maintain it while it gets established this first summer,” Self said.

Gullo said she learned about Phoebe Snetsinger while doing research on the peace project.

“When I asked residents about her, no one had ever heard of her,” she said. “I thought the community should in some way commemorate her.”

The garden has the potential to grow if other interested groups have suitable expansion ideas, Sullivan said.

“We’re delighted to welcome any volunteer projects that people bring forward,” Sullivan said. “If people come forward and we say, ‘Let’s find an area for it,’ we don’t like to say no, we want to say, ‘That’s a really great idea,’ so let’s do it.”

Brian and Janet Wanca expressed being proud of their son’s project.

Janet Wanca called the garden “a beautiful idea.”

“It’s important to do something and give back to the community,” said Brian Wanca.

Kyle Wanca’s friend William Dowell, 18, of Barrington, also a 2022 BHS graduate, was among volunteers helping to plant in the garden.

“It’s great just to make a lasting impact,” Dowell said. “So when you come back in 30 or 20 years, you take a look at it, show your kids, and realize what you did.”

Karie Angell Luc is a freelancer.