“Smoky Sakurada” Friend of Friends of the Park Award​ Pete Leki, Nature Along the Lake Partner Teacher, Waters School 

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In honor of a beloved volunteer of Friends of the Parks, the late Smoky Sakurada, we periodically lift up other committed partners that donate time and commitment to our organization way above and beyond the call of duty.  This year, we send a special shout out to Waters Elementary School Ecology Program Director Pete Leki.  To many communities, Pete is a pillar of support, knowledge and wisdom, and Friends of the Parks is fortunate to be counted amongst them.  A longtime educational partner of Friends of the Parks’ Nature Along the Lake environmental education program, Pete’s experience as an ecology educator and former water works professional, coupled with the genuine love he has for Chicago, makes him a walking library of information about the beauty of our environment and our lakefront.  For many years, he has brought children from his Chicago Public School classroom on our Nature Along the Lake field trips to expose youth to nature and the environment in the outdoor classroom setting of the Montrose natural areas.  His long-time involvement with the program and his generosity make him a treasure; over the past year he played a key support role to FOTP in the midst of staff transition.  He freely shared with new staff from his knowledge of the evolution of the program over the years, the hiking route, and even the trees he likes to point out to his students.  He helped make personal connections via the relationships he has developed with the lead stewards of the natural areas.  He presented a folder of all of his documents collected and saved from the many years of partnering with FOTP. He even led a few field trips as part of training and orientation to help onboard our new director of environmental education.  Pete, we hate to think about how we would have made it through that transition without you.  Thank you for being such a committed friend of Friends of the Parks!

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