Beth and Will Drucker

Beth and Will Drucker
Go Green Wilmette

Beth Drucker and her husband, Harry, are both avid gardeners who love to grow their own food. They planted their first garden in a Wilmette alley 30 years ago. But as they raised their three children, they didn’t require them to help with the gardening.

“We didn’t want them to hate it,” Beth says. Instead of forcing or guilt-tripping them, Beth simply made opportunities available to her children—an approach she also took with her Wilmette community as she successfully grew the nonprofit Go Green Wilmette.

It started when Beth’s oldest child, Will, couldn’t bike to the Northfield campus of New Trier Township High School because there weren’t any safe bike paths. Biking is a year-round staple of Drucker family life, so Beth joined Wilmette’s Bicycle Task Force. The group’s accomplishments include numerous bike routes, the bike lanes on Sheridan Road, bike training in local schools, and an annual Gear Up for Biking event, now in its third year.

From the bike task force, as well as her work volunteering in Wilmette school gardens, Beth was invited to be part of a group of eight concerned citizens that met to discuss environmental issues in 2006. That group became Go Green Wilmette, which reaches 925 households through its bi-monthly newsletter and partners with numerous community organizations. March marked the group’s fifth annual community environmental fair, which in 2010 drew more than 450 attendees and a whopping 25 tons of recycling. “It seems unbelievable,” Beth says of those numbers.

And all three of Beth’s children have been inspired by her activism: They’re all working to save the planet in different ways. Will, 24, recently returned to Wilmette and is volunteering for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Illinois Chapter, as well as cutting down the invasive tree species buckthorn in Harms Woods. He’s decided to pursue a career in sustainable urban planning.

“There’s a difference between imposing and cultivating environmentalism,” Will says. “It was never crammed down our throats—and Go Green Wilmette is all about showing people new stuff they can do. That positive reinforcement has a lot of staying power.”

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