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Garfield Farm Museum Awards Preservationists April 21

     On Friday, April 21, Garfield Farm Museum will recognize local individuals and groups for their preservation and conservation activities at the 18th Annual Awards Dinner at Dunham Woods Riding Club in Wayne, IL.
      This year a special guest, David Heinze, DVM, of Batavia , IL will be honored for his fast action reporting to authorities last August's lightning strike of the museum's oldest building, the 1842 hay and grain barn. Response by museum staff and the St.Charles, Elburn, Geneva, and Batavia fire departments minimized the potential loss of this most historic structure.
     The museum will recognize the Aurora Historical Society for its 100 years of working to preserve the history of Aurora, IL with a Historic Preservation Award. The group preserves all forms of history including documents dating back to the 1830s, photography since 1850, as well as 3 dimensional artifacts including the historic Tanner House.
     There must be something in the water because three award winners have been LaFox area neighbors for over a dozen years. Edward Richardson, the James Polivka family, and the Dave Compton family have taken steps preserving land. For the Polivka family, mother Nancy set the tone with her efforts to preserve the historic Durant House and Beith House of St.Charles, IL. From the beginning days of Restorations of Kane County now known as Preservation Partners, Nancy was a faithful and dedicated volunteer providing critical leadership. This ethic has passed on to her children, Rebecca, Bryan, Brad, and Dwight, who comprising the Polivka Family Partnership, chose to sell their family's LaFox Farm to the Kane County Forest Preserve. Because of these actions, Nancy is being recognized with a Historic Preservation Award and the family partnership will receive a Cooperator for Conservation Award. Their neighbor David Compton was likewise concerned for preserving his farmland and for years had sought a method to do so. The Cooperator for Conservation Award is appropriate for Compton as he was willing to sell to the forest preserve as well.
     The Richardson Wildlife Foundation that consists of over 1800 acres in Lee County came about because of the vision of Edward Richardson. The foundation is committed to habitat restoration and development, conservation education and research. The Garfield Farm Museum Award for Environmental Preservation will be given to the foundation.
      Documenting history, the land, and rural life is critical as rural areas are either being absorbed by suburbia or traditional agriculture is succumbing to agribusiness. One of the newest ways to document is through the internet and personal 'diaries' known as blogs. Not a farmer's wife but in need of a name to best describe her theme, Suzanne Kathro of Lily Lake, IL has spent over a year daily updating her with a new photo and description of the world around her. As commenters on her website have said they never thought a simple rural road could be a destination or how exotic these rural scenes appear to an international audience, her blog opens other's eyes to looking at their own backyards. Her efforts will be given an Agricultural Preservation award as a year of this blog will be an important documentation of change for future generations to study.
     Garfield Farm Museum's neighbors to the east have done a great service to the farm's rural setting in this rapidly developing area by selling a conservation easement to Campton Township's Open Space Program. The Richard DeBeir and Jack Anderson families did not individually own enough land to qualify for Illinois Township Open Space enabling legislation. By 'combining' their adjacent parcels, the 50 acre minimum was met and they sold a conservation easement to the township, which will keep their lands as open space in perpetuity. This provides a great visual buffer for Garfield Farm as these properties over look the farm from the east. It also retains the possibility that the DeBeir land will continue to be used as a horse farm for generations to come. These properties also buffer St.Charles Township's Campton Hills Park and preserve the rural look of Campton Hills Road. DeBeir and Anderson will receive a Cooperator for Campton's Conservation award.
      The awards were established to recognize organizations and individuals whose activities paralleled the three themes of Garfield Farm Museum, history, farming and the environment. The Cooperator awards are being given as recipients are a vital component of conserving and preserving rapidly growing communities. For years, the land preservation community has known that saving natural areas, farmland, and cultural landscapes can only be done with the cooperation of the landowner. All the money, all the best intentions, all the community support can mean nothing, if a land owner is not interested in selling their property for the public benefit. Cases where owners could have received more money by selling for preservation but still chose to sell for development are not uncommon. Selling property is full of emotional issues, misconceptions of the economics of real estate, mistrust of the market, lack of understanding the value of time, money and opportunity, and often involves a number of parties related by blood or marriage or by business partnerships.
     Garfield Farm Museum is a historically intact former 1840s Illinois prairie farmstead and teamster inn that volunteers and donors are restoring as an 1840s working farm museum. To attend the awards dinner, advanced payment of $40 is required. For information call 630 584-8485 or email
For more information about Garfield Farm send an e-mail message to: or call 630/584-8485.