Catherine McGlynn

Engaging the Hispanic Community in Protecting Native Plants and Animals

"Invasive species, particularly invasive ornamental plants, are one of the greatest threats to native biodiversity in the Chicago region. Last year Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership (NIIPP) began work on green industry education and outreach focusing on both sides of the green industry market: nurseries and consumers. This project targets Spanish-speaking consumers and will generate two invasive plant fact sheets for homeowners. The NIIPP coordinator will write the English version of each fact sheet and work with two professional translators to convert both fact sheets and the MIPN Landscape Alternatives brochure (already in print) into Spanish. Two volunteer translators will work with the coordinator to provide three bilingual workshops about invasive ornamental plants and suggested non-invasive alternatives to 100 Hispanic homeowners in Waukegan, Illinois, the fifth-largest city on the western shore of Lake Michigan. In Waukegan, Latinos representing 45 percent of the population. The Waukegan Public Library has agreed to host a workshop, and Catherine will work with the library and Hispanic groups to distribute fact sheets and brochures, which will also be made available on the NIIPP website.

This pilot project will inform a larger project to reach Latinos throughout the Chicago region. Engaging the Hispanic community, which in suburban Cook County grew by 46.5 percent in the last decade, increases the population of homeowners making informed choices for their gardens by purchasing plants that provide food and shelter for native wildlife and removing invasive plants from their lands, and it includes Spanish-speakers in larger community efforts to restore and protect native habitats."

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