“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Service for and with others is a core value at Yes& Lipman Hearne (Y&LH). Company-supported “Days of Service” are one of the many ways we breathe life into our tagline: Positivity and Possibility. To each Day of Service, our team brings openness to learn, grow and give back for the possibility of engaging in positive change for our community. On October 13, our (mostly) Chicago-based team buddied up and carpooled to the northern suburbs to collect Purple Prairie Clover seeds at Somme Woods, part of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The seeds will be preserved until springtime, then re-planted to maintain what little prairie we have left in Illinois; of the 21 million acres that once covered Illinois, less than 0.01% remains.
We sat down with Y&LH Art Director Nina Shin, who both discovered Somme Wood’s volunteer project and coordinated this Day of Service for all Yes& Lipman Hearners, to explore what this service means to her.
Q: Thanks for taking the time, Nina! To start, can you talk a bit about why volunteering is so important?
Nina: Sure thing! Volunteering is one small way to give back to those in need in a significant way. When we, as an agency, give our time to our community, we are directly improving it while spreading social awareness in the process—a key factor in increasing volunteerism.
Q: One of the deterrents for a lot of full-time employees is the time required to volunteer. What does it mean when a company or organization allots hours each quarter for their staff to volunteer during the workday?
Nina: Allocating time for employees to serve others outside of day-to-day work responsibilities helps them work on soft skills like communication, organization, and problem solving, while spreading kindness and positive energy throughout the team. When we take the time to support and lift up our communities, we also develop and grow as employees and individuals.
Q: Couldn’t agree more. Besides important soft skills, can you break down some other things you learned while volunteering at Somme Woods?
Nina: In the spirit of growing and spreading kindness, we collected Purple Prairie Clover seeds for next year’s replanting season. By collecting and preserving these seeds, Cook County Forest Preserve volunteers can pick up where the last group left off—in this case, planting the clover seeds we collected come spring—to help restore crucial prairie land in a place once filled with invasive European Buckthorn. After a short lesson on the Somme Wood’s mission to restore the area with native species and how to collect the seeds, we walked to a gorgeous, slightly hidden, restored prairie patch where we began seed collection.
Q: How did it feel to be out there helping with this process?
Nina: It was a truly grounding, peaceful, and restorative experience. Together, we collected multiple, large bags of seeds while getting to know one another outside of our remote office environments.
Q: It sounds like volunteering means a lot to you.
Nina: Giving back to the community is very important to me, especially contributing to restorative practices that improve our land. I am very passionate about native plant restoration within the Midwest and was devastated to learn that Illinois only has 0.01% left of its original 21 million acres of natural prairie. Native plants provide food and shelter/nesting materials; increase pollination; create a place for different species to lay and shelter their eggs. They also require less water, fertilizer, or pesticides; prevent water runoff; and improve air quality, making these plants a highly sustainable choice. As an Art Director, I spend a lot of time in the conceptual and digital world, reducing my direct connection to the earth. When I am given company time to be of service to nature, I gain new perspectives and feel grateful for the beautiful world around me—breathing new energy into my work.
Q: Seems like this was an extremely positive experience. Is there anything else you’d like to say about this opportunity?
Nina: I’m very appreciative of how enthusiastic the Cook County Forest Preserve volunteers were in helping me organize a very successful seed collection session. It was a pleasure communicating with them to plan the day and my teammates’ excitement added to this positive experience. I fully intend to work with Somme Woods again and cannot wait to see the gorgeous Purple Prairie Clover bloom in summer.
Thanks, Nina! And thank you to the Cook County Forest Preserve volunteers that took the time to teach and work with us during our Fall Day of Service.
If you’re local to the Chicago area and are interested in volunteering at Somme Woods, you can find the opportunities page here.
Does it feel like creativity, innovation, and originality are in short supply these days? Or even under attack from the …: