CFC mourns loss of “conservation luminary,” Tom Vanderpoel

It is with great sorrow that Citizens for Conservation announces the passing of Tom Vanderpoel, head of restoration for CFC. He died Tuesday, August 8 in Barrington.

Tom, 66, who also served on CFC’s board of directors, was active in the organization for nearly 40 years. He led CFC’s work in restoring and preserving more than 3,500 acres of natural habitat in the Barrington area.

“Tom’s tireless dedication to the environment and to preserving open land helped immensely to build and strengthen CFC,” said Tom Crosh, president of CFC’s board of directors. “His leadership and his ability to share and educate helped CFC create valuable, constructive partnerships throughout the region and brought national, and even international, recognition to CFC’s work and organization. He inspired those who worked with him to protect the beauty and biodiversity of our community’s natural resources.”

Tom graduated from Barrington High School in 1969 and received a B.S. in wildlife biology from the University of Wyoming in 1973. He returned to Barrington and started working in landscaping and ecosystem management; he and his brothers took their first prairie plant collecting trip in 1976.

As his knowledge in restoration increased, he was asked to consult on many native restorations throughout Illinois and Wisconsin. But while he was widely recognized and awarded for his conservation accomplishments, the most meaningful recognition came from the volunteers who engaged so enthusiastically in the work he pioneered. He led CFC’s restoration workdays, encouraged CFC’s education activities and worked to launch CFC’s new Barrington Greenway Initiative.

“As a long-time member of Citizens for Conservation, Tom helped guide and achieve a vision to restore the natural areas that define our small region,” said Janet Agnoletti, executive director of the Barrington Area Council of Governments. “He inspired people to donate thousands of hours of work, while teaching and working alongside them at seed collections and prairie burns.”

“Tom was a conservation luminary,” added Wendy Paulson, a CFC member and chair of the Bobolink Foundation. “I’ve never known anyone from whom I’ve learned so much, nor found so inspiring and motivating.  His impact on landscapes, the community, and individuals is nothing short of extraordinary.  While his work focused on the Barrington area, his influence on conservation and restoration extended far beyond.”

Tom’s wife, Gail, and his brother, Jim, are also active in CFC, and his father, Waid Vanderpoel, led the group in the 1970s.

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