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LLCC dedicates new West Lake Nature Grove

Outdoor learning lab near Lake Springfield

Press contact: Lynn Whalen

SPRINGFIELD — Lincoln Land Community College dedicated its newest learning space this morning, 2.1 acres of land at 2321 West Lake Shore Drive now known as West Lake Nature Grove. 

West Lake Nature Grove signage.

The outdoor lab adjacent to the LLCC campus contains an apiary (beehives), fruit trees, bushes and other plantings, along with benches.

“This land was generously donated to LLCC by Robbie Robert Jr., president of Robert’s Seafood in Springfield,” said Karen Sanders, vice president of advancement and executive director of the LLCC Foundation. “Robbie donated the property in memory of his good friend, Lloyd Inslee Jr., who lived in a house here for more than 50 years. Lloyd was a great lover of nature and wildlife. In his honor, Robbie specified that this land be used to educate students, to carry forward Lloyd’s legacy.”

Brent Todd, LLCC dean of natural and agricultural sciences, noted the opportunity to use the Grove for various biology and agriculture classes. “The West Lake Nature Grove complements our existing curriculum by incorporating its amenities into science and agriculture labs. Apiaries, orchards, succession plots and pollinator gardens are just a few of the ways faculty are incorporating this living learning lab into their curriculum.”

LLCC apiary (beehives) at the Nature Grove.

Biology Professor Dave Cox partnered with local beekeeping groups to establish the apiary and harvest honey. “I see the West Lake Nature Grove as a community resource to promote education and awareness of agriculture and environmental topics,” said Cox. “Thank you to those who have assisted with the apiary, including the Prairie State Beekeepers, Lincoln Land Beekeepers Association and Steamship Bees, along with LLCC workforce students.” 

Bill Harmon, LLCC agriculture program coordinator, uses the Grove in ag and horticulture classes. “Illinois is an important producer of more than 64 vegetable and 15 fruit crops on more than 100,000 acres, with an annual sales volume of close to $400 million dollars. Illinois leads the nation in production of pumpkins and is 10th in peaches and 19th in apples. This project will allow LLCC to demonstrate the importance of bees to the pollination and production of these crops. As a result, our students will have a wider understanding of specialty crops and their potential as a part of a profitable business.”

The Outlet of Springfield students standing next to a beehive.

Among the attendees at the ceremony were several young men from the Outlet, who sponsored and decorated one of the beehives. 

Enhancements to the land were made possible through the Kreher Farm Perpetual Charitable Trust within the LLCC Foundation. 

Following the ceremony, an open house was held at the college’s newly constructed greenhouse, adjacent to the Kreher Agriculture Center, also made possible by the Kreher Trust.