Meet Our Six Centennial Medallion Search Winners

by Beth Schirott,
Communications & Marketing

In honor of its 100th anniversary, the District hosted a Centennial Medallion Search in June to get people outside and into the forest preserves for their daily dose of nature. The District hid six medallions in different preserves and provided daily clues to their whereabouts. Here are the super sleuths who found them first!

Francesca Becker
Francesca found the first medallion for a bicycle package hidden, appropriately, at the District’s first forest preserve, York Woods in Oak Brook. “I hike in the forest preserves almost daily and love the nature that they provide. We never know what animals we’ll encounter along our treks and enjoy greeting the ‘regulars’ we see, too,” says Francesca. She can often be found at sundown at Meacham Grove Forest Preserve in Bloomingdale, where she enjoys a hillside sunset as a reward for a challenging hike.
Francesca Becker 

Brianna Pecora
No one likes a good challenge like Brianna. An avid geocacher, she identified the location of the contest’s first medallion but arrived a little too late. She wasn’t about to let that happen again, though. After seeing the second photo clue, she was at the entrance to McDowell Grove Forest Preserve in Naperville that same morning before sunrise. She went straight to the information kiosk and went home with a medallion for running-shoe package.
Brianna Pecora

Mike Swaney
Not rain, not buckthorn, not even impending darkness discouraged Mike on his quest to find the second bicycle-package medallion, which was hidden at Waterfall Glen. Mike spent an hour searching the area around the hitching post from the third photo clue but came out triumphant. “It was 6:55 p.m. when I found it,” he remembers, just as the sky was getting dark in the east. “I had to resort to using a flashlight!”
Michael Swaney 

Sarah Stout
Sarah and her boyfriend drove for over an hour from Carpentersville to be at the gates of Wood Dale Grove Forest Preserve in Wood Dale when it opened. They waited with others from Sarah’s geocaching group, who like all good treasure hunters didn’t announce their intentions beforehand. In the pouring rain Sarah searched around the main fishing pier from the photo clue before deciding to take a chance and look at the second pier in the photo that was across lake. There she found the medallion for a fly-fishing package suspended from fishing line. Because Sarah’s an avid angler as well as a devoted geocacher, the prize found a good home.
Sarah Stout

Michael Mast
Michael had perhaps the wettest route to a medallion. He was in the rain searching for the medallion at Wood Dale Grove, but luck wasn’t on his side. But when he saw the photo clue for the running-shoe package, he knew where he was headed next. But as Michael’s luck would have it, the medallion was hidden at Churchill Woods Forest Preserve in Glen Ellyn near a bridge where rains the night before had carried the East Branch DuPage River over its banks. When he arrived at the site before heading off to work, he realized he was going to have to get his feet wet. He waded in the water up to his ankles to a tree where he found the medallion tucked between the trunks. Now if his shoes get soaked, he’ll at least have a brand new spare pair.
Michael Swaney Medallion

Peter Geldes
Peter Geldes was excited about the Forest Preserve District’s Centennial Medallion Search but didn’t intend to play until a co-worker talked him into it a few days into the challenge. That afternoon, he started looking at the written clues and searching the District’s maps and website. After he was fairly convinced that the $2,500 grand prize medallion was at Mallard Lake, he asked his friend to join him on a canvass of the preserve. They had been searching for a few hours and were just about ready to leave and wait for the next day’s clue when a certain tree caught Peter’s eye. He asked his friend whether she thought it was less than 40 feet from the trail, a stipulation outlined in the rules. She suggested they go look, and there it was. “I guess it was within 40 feet after all!”she said.
Peter Geldes

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