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Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate  United States Province

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News Archives » La Vista Ecological Learning Center


Breathing Life into Pollinator Garden @ La Vista July 25th, 2022

Master Gardener and Master Naturalist Susan Murray plus nine volunteers are in the process of renewing the La Vista Ecological Center Pollinator Garden begun in 2014.  The monarda, a native plant that provides nectar for many bees, butterflies, birds, wasps, and other pollinators, is in full bloom.  Our plan is to introduce more diversity so that, when the monarda has peaked, other natives will continue serving pollinators throughout the season as well as adding color and interest.  This will happen over a period of years.   

Monarda plant

(Photo courtesy of MrGajowy3, Pixabay)

When some of the plants complete their blooming cycle, they die, making the garden less than attractive.  However, we leave those plants because their seeds continue to serve other pollinators.  In the winter they provide valuable habitat for species that overwinter here.  Rather than clean them up so the garden has a tidy appearance, it is important to continue to provide for native animals.

Garden tools

(Animation courtesy of Matt Wasser, Lottie Files)

This garden was created in response to the disappearing monarch butterfly.  It, along with many other pollinators, are endangered by use of pesticides and reduction in habitat. It is also a way to give flesh to  the Missionary Oblates Land Ethic statement and the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si.

Our brochure explains the pollinator garden and includes quotes from both documents. The garden is also an educational tool, modeling a way to create this kind of garden and encouraging others to replicate it in the back yards, on a smaller scale. 

Download this brochure to learn more about Lavista’s Pollinator Garden. 

 

 


Spring into Healing Earth Day Celebration May 4th, 2022

By Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, director of La Vista Ecological Learning Center

For fifty-two years, Earth Day has been commemorated on April 22nd since Democratic Senator Gaylord Nelson initiated the event out of his deeply felt concern for our deteriorating environment. Interestingly, he elicited the cooperation of a Republican congressman to be his co-chair. Together they launched an effort that has gained momentum and branched out as its significance deepens during our present climate crisis.


This year our Earth Day celebration took place inside the Buckminster Fuller Dome on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville which provided the perfect ambience.  As I looked up at the continents etched into the dome and then around at the participants drumming and dancing underneath, I felt a deep gratitude for being alive, and isn’t that what an Earth Day Celebration should evoke?

Others felt equally moved.  One woman commented, “I felt blessed!  I enjoyed sharing thoughts and memories, catching up with old friends, meeting new ones. And the drumming and dancing was awesome!” Another participant wrote a thank you saying, “What an uplifting blend of celebration, inspiration, education and call to action. It was perfect for the Easter season of hope and renewal!”

This event was offered by the Confluence Climate Collaborative, of which La Vista Ecological Learning Center is a member.  We had just read and discussed the book All We Can Save: Truth Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, and during the afternoon we shared our favorite quotes, thoughts, and poems. One that especially touched me was by Geneen Marie Haugen: In our time of disturbance and radical change, we are crossing a threshold, a portal, or an unseen bridge from one world to another.  It could be said that the bridge is either collapsing beneath us, or being made as we walk together, in the long twilight hours when one civilization gives way to another.

I truly felt that we were making the bridge together as we shared ourselves during the afternoon.  And being together ignited my hope that one civilization really is giving way to another, to one that believes in solutions to the climate crisis that hear both the cry of Earth and the cry of the poor. I also felt blessed!

 


Our Global Biodiversity Crisis – What You Can Do October 16th, 2020

Submitted by Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, director, La Vista Ecological Learning Center


The loss of biodiversity on our planet is even more urgent than the climate crisis but less well-known, putting people, wildlife, and future generations at risk.  Scientists report that one million species are in danger of extinction in the coming decades. Urgent action needs to be taken now to reverse the massive loss of plants, insects, and other creatures we depend on for a stable climate, sustainable food supplies and essential pollination services. 

All of us can help by participating in Citizen Science Projects right in our local areas.  Projects include observing wildlife, measuring night sky brightness, monitoring water quality, counting birds, monitoring bird nests, and many more. Visit the National Geographic website to get ideas.  You will be working with thousands of other volunteers and scientists to gather and share important data to a global database.

Visit the National Geographic website to participate.

Photos courtesy, Unsplash.

 


Introducing the Lavista Learning Garden June 17th, 2020


Oblate Learning Garden in Godfrey, IL

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Since its inception in 2001, La Vista Ecological Learning Center has taught that how we eat determines, to a great extent, how we care for creation.  That is why we were aligned with the Community Supported Garden at La Vista for 15 years.  Since that project ended in 2019, we have established La Vista Learning Garden under the umbrella of the Oblate Ecological Initiative.

MISSION

The Learning Garden will be a model and gathering place for novices and area participants to learn and practice:

  • sustainable gardening skills like creating a garden plan  organic soil preparation and fertilization crop rotation choosing vegetables and their planting times methods for harvesting vegetables growing fruit trees native flower propagation a variety of composting methods
  • raising and caring for chickens
  • backyard beekeeping
  • cooking and nutrition
  • hand-carving kitchen utensils
  • DIY recycled garden decorations

STAFF

Vernon DePauw is our head gardener and teacher.  He is a nationally known wood carver as well as a backyard gardener, poultryman, and beekeeper. Vernon has been a presenter at the Learning Center for several years. Vernon is faithfully supported by his wife Kathy who is also a volunteer.

[Novices with chicken coop they painted. It was remodeled by Vernon.]

Sister Maxine collaborates with Vernon to plan, organize, advertise and execute programs.

Volunteers – A small group of volunteers contribute their skills.

This project has been made possible with the support, encouragement and help of Seamus Finn, OMI, and OMI Novitiate Leadership: Pat McGee, Frank Kuczera and Humphrey Milimo.

[Novices and Vernon with hives built by Vernon and painted by novices.]


Yale Scholar Delivers Keynote at Day of Reflection on “Laudato SI” in Belleville Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows May 2nd, 2018

(Originally published on www.omiusa.org)

Thanks to Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, Director of the La Vista Ecological Learning Ctr.


On Saturday, April 21, Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker gave the keynote address at a conference held at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois entitled Our Sacred Earth, Our Common Home. Dr. Tucker is a Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar at Yale University where she has appointments in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as well as the Divinity School and the Department of Religious Studies. This event is the second in a series devoted to the study and implementation of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si’.

Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker of Yale University addresses the crowd at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows

According to Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, Director of the La Vista Ecological Learning Center which co-sponsored the event, “The participants were inspired by Dr. Tucker’s enthusiasm as she shared her appreciation of papal encyclical Laudato Si’.  She helped us to wake up to its importance in the Catholic tradition of social encyclicals as well as its worldwide influence and impact beyond Catholicism.  Being a leader in the emerging field of Religion and Ecology, she was able to unite the two as she led us through the content of the document.”

Throughout her presentation, Dr. Tucker praised Pope Francis for his leadership and call to action: “The spirituality of Francis in the encyclical is clear: It begins with Mother Earth, the Canticle to Brother Sun and Sister Moon, Bonaventure, you all know the mind’s path to God goes through the natural world…and so much of this is awe-evoking action…we’re looking for renewable energy, the renewal energy we’re looking for is the energy of the spirit. To renew the face of the earth. And that’s where religious communities, spiritual sensibilities and moral force will make a difference.”

(L-R) Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker

After the keynote, the attendees split up for break out sessions,  one by Sr. Cheryl Kemner, OSF and Nicole Heerlein of Franciscans for Earth:  “The Challenge of Technology and Simple Lifestyle,” another featuring Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, Director of La Vista Ecological Learning Center:  “Backyard Revolution,” “Care for the Earth; Care for the Poor” by Sr. Connie Probst, OSF – Co-Director, St. Anthony’s Food Pantry, and “What Can My Parish and Family Do?” by Jamie Hasemeier of Holy Redeemer Parish. In addition, Dr. Tucker held a break out session for religious sisters.

The event, which attracted about 100 people ran from 9 AM to Noon at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. The day was co-sponsored by: the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows; La Vista Ecological Learning Center; the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

 


Upcoming Event: “Our Sacred Earth, Our Common Home” April 11th, 2018

Reflection & Action on Laudato Si ‘
Saturday, April 21
9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Visitors Center

Keynote Speaker:  Mary Evelyn Tucker, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar
School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Yale Divinity School

Cost:  $25 for adults, $15 for students

To register call 618-394-6270 or go online: www.snows.org/events-2/our-sacred-earth-our-common-home

Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker

This event is the second in a series devoted to the study and implementation of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si’. Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker, who collaborated for many years with eco-theologian and Earth scholar Fr. Thomas Berry, will deliver the keynote address. The participants will then take part in a series of “hands-on” break-out sessions. The morning will conclude with a feedback and takeaway session. This event is intended for individuals and parish groups looking for practical ways to care for our common home, our sacred Earth.

“Our Sacred Earth, Our Common Home: Reflection and Action on Laudato Si” is sponsored by the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, La Vista Ecological Learning Center, the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

 

 

 

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