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A FANTASTIC YEAR IN FOREST PARK


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A FANTASTIC YEAR IN FOREST PARK


Executive Director's Welcome

Thanks to the support of Forest Park Forever members, donors and volunteers — and our productive partnership with the City's Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry and its Director, Greg Hayes — 2015 was a successful year for Forest Park and our own nonprofit conservancy.

While we are already amid a busy 2016, we wanted to take the opportunity to look back at a few highlights from the past 12 months. From improved infrastructure and completed maintenance projects to special events and new technologies, 2015 was a banner year for the region's greatest treasure. Supporters helped our team improve the Park in so many ways this year, from planting more than 50,590 bulbs, 4,560 trees, and 25 new seed species across the Park to helping 5,000 students and 800 teachers experience Forest Park as an incomparable place of learning. Every step of the way, Forest Park Forever's 1,200 dedicated volunteers were part of the journey, donating 12,500 hours for a time value total of $290,000.

As you scroll through this website, I hope you will take great pride in how much Forest Park represents the best of our region — and how, through remarkable generosity and partnerships, it keeps getting better every day. 

Lesley S. Hoffarth, P.E. 
Forest Park Forever President and Executive Director

 

Ribbon Cuttings


Leaders from the City of St. Louis, its Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry and Forest Park Forever Cut the Ribbon on Several New & Improved Amenities in 2015

Ribbon Cuttings


Leaders from the City of St. Louis, its Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry and Forest Park Forever Cut the Ribbon on Several New & Improved Amenities in 2015

Several important projects came to a close in 2015,the result of continued great collaboration between the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever and the Forest Park Advisory Board. These projects include:

Landscape Care & Beautification


Working With our City Partners and Others, Forest Park Forever's Horticulturists & Gardeners Strive To Make the Park Grounds Healthier and More Beautiful Every Day

Landscape Care & Beautification


Working With our City Partners and Others, Forest Park Forever's Horticulturists & Gardeners Strive To Make the Park Grounds Healthier and More Beautiful Every Day

Photographs by Jennifer Silverberg

Our passionate horticulturists and gardeners — joined by their terrific volunteers — work to make Forest Park more beautiful and more sustainable every single day. (It's hard to believe that just a decade ago our team of 20 horticultural professionals was just a team of 1!) From the manicured landscapes at the World's Fair Pavilion to the Nature Reserve areas around the Park, our team plays an integral role in maintaining Forest Park as one of the world's greatest urban parks. 

Highlights from the field during 2015 include:

facility & infrastructure MaintenancE


Vast Space + Historic Structures + Millions of Visitors = Lots of Required Maintenance!

facility & infrastructure MaintenancE


Vast Space + Historic Structures + Millions of Visitors = Lots of Required Maintenance!

We have worked hard since our founding in 1986 to work alongside the City to restore Forest Park back to its former glory. After supporting the completion of many highly visible restoration projects between 1996 - 2003 (including the Emerson Grand Basin, the Boathouse and the Jewel Box, just to name a few), our day-to-day work shifted from just helping restore the Park to helping take care of it forever. No one in the St. Louis community would want Forest Park to slip back into disrepair again. 

With this in mind, in 2015 Forest Park Forever expanded its focus on maintenance, even adding a new full-time position in 2015: Facilities Maintenance Supervisor, which happened to be the dream job of Dan Nelson

Nelson, his City of St. Louis colleagues and others have been busy throughout 2015 on a number of maintenance projects, including rebuilding the path at the base of Art Hill, improving and enhancing Turtle Playground, repairing the roof of the Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center and much more. In total, Forest Park Forever led the completion of 30 of these projects in 2015, totaling $800,000 of needed maintenance!

New Brand Identity


Forest Park Forever, Blooming Anew

New Brand Identity


Forest Park Forever, Blooming Anew

In late May 2015, Forest Park Forever introduced a refreshed brand and messaging platform. This 90-second video introduces our nonprofit conservancy's new logo and brand position.

Nearly 30 years into the organization’s life, Forest Park Forever has grown from a grass-roots fundraising organization into a robust, nationally prominent conservancy with an expanding role in helping maintain the Park and shape and secure its future. As guided by Forest Park Forever's Strategic Plan, in 2015 we sought to develop a refreshed and contemporary brand platform that was comprehensive, unified and able to convey the excitement of Forest Park and our expanded role within it, as we partner with the City's Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry. Read more about how our new brand identity came to be. 

AN AMBITIOUS Campaign


Introducing Forever: The Campaign for Forest Park's Future

AN AMBITIOUS Campaign


Introducing Forever: The Campaign for Forest Park's Future

This video introduces you to the Forever campaign and the important work being done to secure the future of Forest Park.

On October 2, 2015, Forest Park Forever formally introduced the Forever: The Campaign for Forest Park's Future with the news that we had raised $116.9 million toward our $130 million goal. With the dual purpose of expanding the organization's endowment  by $100 million and raising $30 million for urgent capital projects, the Forever campaign will result in a much-improved Park and a stronger organization better able to care for Forest Park for many decades to come. Leading up to October 2, we were proud and grateful to announce two extraordinary gifts received in 2015 that supported this campaign: $30 million from Jack C. Taylor and family, and $20 million from Mr. and Mrs. James S. McDonnell III and the JSM Charitable Trust.  More information and project renderings can be found at theforevercampaign.org.

Forestparkmap.org


New Technology That Puts Forest Park At Your Fingertips

Forestparkmap.org


New Technology That Puts Forest Park At Your Fingertips

A teaser for Forestparkmap.org

On August 31, Forest Park Forever was thrilled to launch Forestparkmap.org, a cutting-edge digital resource offered for free to all Park visitors. Nearly 15,000 people used the responsive multi-platform web app during its first four months to plan their trips, find their way around and discover previously unknown areas of the Park. Spotlighting 100+ Park destinations, this GPS-enabled site allows visitors to easily find all the information they need to explore Forest Park — from cultural institutions to picnic pavilions and restrooms.

For a look at how you might use Forestparkmap.org on your next visit, check out this segment from KSDK's Show Me St. Louis, where Coreen Savitski used it to help her find some spots she'd never seen before. 

Pull up the site on your smartphone next time you're in the Park to try it out for yourself!

Volunteers & Visitor Services


Volunteers & Visitor Services


Each year, Forest Park Forever volunteers play an essential role in sustaining Forest Park. The year 2015 was no exception, with 1,200+ individual volunteers putting in 12,500 hours, which is a time value of $290,000! As you can see below, our volunteers support our efforts across a wide range of areas, including:  

  • 2,650 hours spent by volunteers working in the field alongside our horticulturists, gardeners and Nature Reserve team
  • 1,975 hours spent by employees and students from businesses, organizations and schools during Park Project Days
  • 135 hours on birding initiatives, including monitoring bluebird stations 
  • 1,200 hours on special event and development committees 
  • 2,520 hours on administrative and Board of Directors leadership
  • 3,780 hours on visitor services

On the important subject of visitor services, we have another series of statistics that illustrate the value Forest Park Forever and its partners put on helping all visitors enjoy their Park experience:  

Many of the visitors we assist and speak with are regular Park users, but we often hear great comments from visitors brand new to Forest Park, including many from out of the state or country. A few of their comments are below:

Beautiful park. Wish we had one like it at home.
— The Waltz Family, Orange Park, Fla.
Very nice and helpful staff and volunteers.
— The Carthwrights, Leeds, England
Love this city! Just moved here and the culture blows me away.
— Catherine L., CWE Resident
I brought my husband for the first time to Forest Park. The staff and volunteers at the Visitor Center are very helpful.
— The Ackersons, Denver, Colo.

A Year of Learning


Experiential Education Within the Region's Greatest Outdoor Learning Lab

A Year of Learning


Experiential Education Within the Region's Greatest Outdoor Learning Lab

By sharing Forest Park with my students, I will inspire them to get active in their community, respect nature, explore like I did as a child in the outdoors and love to learn.
— Ferguson Florissant School District First-Grade Teacher and 2015 Voyage of Learning Teachers' Academy Participant

Forest Park has become one of the greatest destinations for experiential and environmental education in the region. Here are just a few highlights from 2015:

  • Nature Works: For this program, made possible by lead donor The Boeing Company, we collaborated with 16 St. Louis area schools and 15 conservation organizations in 2015 to provide 492 youth with hands-on conservation education and mentoring in the classroom and in Forest Park. Students were engaged in several conservation and environmental stewardship opportunities, including a Gateway STEM High School volunteer internship, volunteer service project days and an eight-week summer internship. In the words of one Nature Works crew member: "In my time working at Forest Park, I’ve come to realize that it’s not just some city park. It’s a community, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
  • Voyage of Learning Teachers’ Academy: For eight days this past summer, Forest Park was transformed once again into an experiential learning lab — a true Voyage of Learning — for 28 St. Louis area schoolteachers. Through hands-on activities and instruction, our graduates came away with experiential outdoor learning techniques, lesson ideas and educational resources they can use with their students. Among this year’s 28 Voyager graduates, 11 came from St. Louis Public Schools and charter schools in St. Louis City.  By connecting more teachers from under-resourced urban communities to the many natural and cultural wonders found in Forest Park, we are engaging more youth in meaningful, outdoor experiential learning opportunities that foster their understanding of and appreciation for nature. 

  • Forest Park Summer Youth Experience: This annual program provides an in-depth, experiential day camp experience in Forest Park each year for approximately 80 primarily African-American, low-income children from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater St. Louis. The program has shown great success in teaching these children facts and skills about forests, fish, wildlife and nature in general while building confidence in the outdoors and cooperation skills, and providing a safe, productive experience during summer months. 

  • Tours & Classes: Forest Park Forever horticulturists, gardeners and volunteers shared their knowledge and passion with the community during 2015 through their walking tours and specialty classes. Twenty-tree Heart of the Park Walking Tours took place during the spring and fall with tours focusing on everything from Tree Identification to the Wonders of Water; seven Wildflower Walks took visitors into several of the Nature Reserve areas of the park; nine Bird Walks introduced beginner birders and veterans alike to the birding hotspots of Forest Park; and 11 specialty classes covered topics such as Wild Edibles, Ethnobotany, Pruning and Woodland Gardens.

Special Events


From a Record-Breaking 5K to Our 25th Annual Hat Luncheon

Special Events


From a Record-Breaking 5K to Our 25th Annual Hat Luncheon

Whether they are designed to thank our members and donors or raise necessary funds for the organization, all of the events we plan throughout the year are meant to showcase the importance of Forest Park and encourage people to get involved with Forest Park Forever. The slideshow above shows just a few highlights from the year, including our very popular (and always sold out) Hat Luncheon, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015; events from the Young Friends of Forest Park Forever; the I Love Forest Park 5K, which shattered attendance and fundraising records from previous years; and the Forever campaign launch party, among others.

You can find more photo galleries of the Hat Luncheon courtesy of Ladue News, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Town & Style, and Blacktie Missouri. Ladue News and Town & Style were also on hand to photograph guests at the October 2 Forever campaign launch party. 

We hope you'll join us at one of our upcoming events in 2016. Keep an eye on our online calendar, which features events from us and other organizations throughout the Park, or visit our Facebook page to RSVP and invite your friends to an upcoming get-together.

Transportation, Safety & Connectivity


Helping Visitors Get Around and Experience the Park — Now and in the Future

Transportation, Safety & Connectivity


Helping Visitors Get Around and Experience the Park — Now and in the Future

Once again this year, thousands of visitors took advantage of the Forest Park Trolley as an affordable and sustainable way to navigate the Park and see all the major destinations. The Trolley is a partnership between Forest Park Forever, Bi-State Development Agency/Metro, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis Zoo and the City of St. Louis. More than 62,000 riders took the Trolley during its May – September service, which equals an average of 423 riders per day. In 2015, tickets were available not just at the Perk Café inside the Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center, but also at the Planetarium Ticket Station at the Saint Louis Science Center.

The St. Louis Police Department — including the St. Louis Mounted Police and the Park Rangers — continued to offer dedicated and strategic service to Forest Park for the benefit of all visitors. One new initiative in 2015 was the Police Department's "Park Smart" program, with the two lots in front of the Visitor Center being monitored daily, with a special focus on the a.m. hours when many runners, walkers and cyclists exercise here. In addition, Forest Park Forever worked with our City partners, including the Police, to review and make select safety-minded improvements in areas such as lighting, plantings, signage and street and path markings. This 2015 work included the addition or more than 600 light-pole address markers throughout the Park, which allow a visitor who might be in need to quickly identify his or her location to a responding authority. 

Lastly, in November, Forest Park Forever and the City initiated a special study to create new strategies around connectivity and mobility in Forest Park and advance the Park's Master Plan. More than 1,300 citizens took part in a survey and public open houses at the Visitor Center, where thoughtful ideas were shared and discussed. This "Discovery Week" was covered by Fox-2, KTRSSt. Louis Public Radio, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Stay tuned for much more on this in 2016. 

Park Events


A Look Back at Some Major Events Held in the Region's Greatest Treasure

Park Events


A Look Back at Some Major Events Held in the Region's Greatest Treasure

St. Louis Earth Day Festival: This annual St. Louis and Forest Park tradition attracted a record crowd of 50,000 to the Muny grounds in April. The family-friendly event included local musical acts and performance art,hands-on educational activities, diverse cuisine featuring local, organic, vegetarian and vegan options, yoga classes for both adults and children, a rock climbing wall and a Metro Bus mural painting. Sustainability is such an important issue in Forest Park, making this annual event a special tradition.

Fair Saint LouisMore than 250,000 visitors came out for the second year of Fair Saint Louis in Forest Park, as the Arch grounds continue their enhancements and construction. There was great live entertainment, interactive attractions and magnificent firework displays. Visit Fair Saint Louis on Flickr to see more photos.

St. Louis Symphony Concert on Art Hill: SLSO maestro David Robertson led the orchestra through a lively set on Art Hill, overlooking the beautiful Emerson Grand Basin. Great music, bursts of fireworks — it’s no wonder this is a favorite annual event of so many St. Louisans. 

LouFest Music FestivalSeptember’s two-day LouFest festival brought a record number of music fans to Central Fields in Forest Park — roughly 50,000 people, 14,000 more than last year. Bands from around the country were met with ideal weather — and by an incomparable setting. It’s no wonder Riverfront Times readers this year voted LouFest the “Best Music Festival” in the region.

Great Forest Park Balloon Glow & Race: Another September tradition in Forest Park — crowds of families and friends watching bright, beautiful balloons lift off from Central Fields and head out across the region. While conditions this year for the Friday night Glow were too windy for light-up, Saturday was a treat for all involved. Most of the balloons taking off traveled along the Mississippi River, with some landing near the Jefferson Barracks Bridge in Missouri and Illinois. 

People & Press


Spotlights on Forest Park & Our Team 

People & Press


Spotlights on Forest Park & Our Team 

We always love when Forest Park is spotlighted by the media, whether it's a local story about one of our team members or a national piece about visiting this great destination. From a much longer list, we've picked a few highlights (not yet mentioned above) to link to here:

 

Instagram Favorites


Daily Park Beauty for a Growing Audience (+200% in 2015)

Instagram Favorites


Daily Park Beauty for a Growing Audience (+200% in 2015)

Forest Park's beauty easily lends itself to visual storytelling, especially when fall colors start to set in. These are just a few of our most popular images from 2015 (you all do love your fog!).

You can see what else we've been sharing by joining (at last count) 5,400+ other Park fans and following us @forestparkforever. Does Forest Park inspire you to capture your own moments of beauty? Tag us and we may share your photo in our feed!