Nature Foundation Has New leader, New Garden Tour Event

Tara Neff
Tara Neff

The Nature Foundation of Will County is starting 2024 with a new leader, a new garden tour event and a schedule packed with plant sales and online seminars.

Tara Neff of Joliet has taken over as Foundation executive director succeeding Cindy Harn, who will remain on with the organization in charge of native plant sales and the online Learn and Grow seminars.

A longtime Will county resident, Neff brings experience working with non-profit agencies, all levels of government, and most recently, served as the Will County Program Director at The Conservation Foundation.

“I’m looking forward to leading the Foundation and its Board into Foundation 2.0,” she said. “Having a separate non-profit arm opens up funding opportunities not available to government agencies. If we can bring in new sources of funding, it leverages taxpayer dollars to do more.”

In the past decade, the Foundation has donated around $1.4 million to the Forest Preserve District in support of education, recreation and conservation programs. including habitat restoration work, art and interpretation initiatives, traveling exhibitions and preserve amenities for the public. The Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), and all donations are 100% tax deductible.

A new fundraiser, The Gardens Gone Native – Will County Native Plant Garden Tour, will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 13. Gardens are being sought now to be featured on the tour. To have your garden considered, you must apply prior to midnight on Sunday, March 3. Gardens that are within 10 to 15 miles of the Will County border will be considered. Tour tickets cost $20, and they will go on sale at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 6.

The Foundation also will be offering online Learn and Grow seminars in February and March, and online and in person native plant sales this spring, summer and fall. The plant sales are a great way to incorporate native species into your landscape and to help the Foundation raise money for Forest Preserve District programs. For more details on plant sales and seminars and ways to donate, visit the Foundation’s website,


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