OAKtober—Oak Awareness Month

Celebrate the beauty and importance of oak trees in Illinois.

Content Detail

In 2015, the governor of Illinois proclaimed that October would officially become OAKtober: Oak Awareness Month.

Oaks represent strength and stature and are historically significant to both the Chicago region and Illinois, evident in the fact that the white oak is the Illinois state tree. Majestic oaks create a sense of awe and wonder. These trees work for us by cleaning our air and water, reducing ambient air temperature, and decreasing our use of energy. But oaks need our help: around the world, more than one-third of all oak species are threatened with extinction.

OAKtober is a time to celebrate oaks and everything that they do for people, as well as to promote the planting and care of these important trees. Every individual, organization, community, park district, forest preserve, and public or private landowner or manager can play an important role in celebrating oaks and oak ecosystems across Illinois throughout the month of October.

Here are some ways to participate in OAKtober:

Find OAKtober events. Search ‘OAKtober’ on the CRTI events page, and fill out the form to add your own.

Host an oak workday. Individuals can help to remove invasive species to improve growing conditions for an oak ecosystem. Or plant, water, and mulch oak trees.

Sponsor a campout. Individuals and families can camp under the oaks and learn about the history of our region and the importance that oaks play.

Lead a walk through an oak woodland. Help participants notice all of the wildlife and plants that make up the oak ecosystem.

Host a talk. Have a local oak expert give a public talk and invite your organization’s members and their friends and neighbors.

Collect acorns and plant them in pots. Plan to plant them out into the community or parks in a few years.

Find your largest oak. Identify the largest oak tree in your community or park, determine its approximate age, and introduce community members to the tree and its history.

Host an OAKtober beer or wine fest.

Engage the local schools. Encourage students to write essays or create posters on the importance of oaks to our communities and our ecosystems.

Hug an oak tree!

Check out these OAKtober resources. These resources from our partners can help you promote oaks and oak ecosystems.

The resources below can be used to spread information about Illinois’ oaks and oak ecosystems and their management needs.

Official OAKtober logo (Chicago Region Trees Initiative). Contact us for high-resolution logos.

Official OAKtober flyer templates (Chicago Region Trees Initiative). Contact us for an editable word version. There are two versions for your convenience, one with space for pictures and one without space for pictures.

Acorn collection and sorting videos (Iowa State University)

Best Management Practices: Oak Ecosystem Restoration, Regeneration, and Maintenance (Chicago Region Trees Initiative). This guide has been developed to assist private landowners to preserve and manage native oak woodlands, conserve wildlife habitats, and protect the plants and wildlife unique to oak ecosystems.

Basic Growing Requirements for Your Oak Trees (The Land Conservancy of McHenry County). Oak Care for Homeowners.

Common Oaks of the Chicago Region (The Field Museum). Rapid color guide of the Chicago region’s oaks.

How to Grow an Oak Tree from an Acorn (Riverwoods Preservation Council). Growing your own oak trees from acorns is easy and is a great way to produce strong, healthy specimens to add back into your garden. It also provides children with a great opportunity to learn about a tree’s life cycle and the role that they can play in enabling this natural cycle. This activity is an ideal one to begin in the early fall.

Natural Areas Conservation Training (N-ACT) Program (The Morton Arboretum). An in-depth training and certification program in natural areas restoration. You’ll gain the knowledge and practical experience necessary to care for our natural areas, including woodlands, prairies, wetlands, and other habitats of the Chicago region.

Oak Ecosystem Recovery Plan (Chicago Wilderness). Chicago Wilderness is leading a coordinated recovery effort to preserve, restore, and expand oak ecosystems across the region. This plan outlines regional goals to preserve, restore, and expand oak ecosystems across the region. You can also refer to the Oak Ecosystem Recovery Plan Executive Summary.

Oak Ecosystem Research Needs (Chicago Region Trees Initiative). Results from a survey of Midwest land managers on what oak ecosystem research would improve their management efforts.

Oak Keeper Project (The Land Conservancy of McHenry County). The vast majority (84%) of the county’s remaining oaks are on private land. If these trees are going to continue to be a significant part of the landscape, maintaining them on private land will be essential. To learn more about the privately owned oaks, volunteers can be trained as Oak Keepers.

Oaks Need Your Help! (Chicago Region Trees Initiative). A brochure that shares how homeowners, landowners, and individuals can create a better future for oak trees.

Oak Trees of Riverwoods (Riverwoods Preservation Council). Did you know that there are over 400 species of oaks? This information page provides details on the species commonly found in the Chicago region.

Project Quercus (The Land Conservancy of McHenry County). The Land Conservancy founded Project Quercus to explore options to protect, preserve, and regenerate the oak woods. Project Quercus is a diverse coalition that brings together public, private, government, corporate, and nonprofit interests, working collaboratively to create solutions to the problem of oak woodland loss.