Deshawn.Profile (2)

Deshawn Johnson’s Legacy Campaign

Deshawn Johnson


Gun violence in the City of Chicago is in the news every day.  The constant media coverage can make us feel numb and hopeless about this tragic and senseless loss of life and the stories of loss are so overwhelming that we often try to put it out of our minds.  

For Chicago’s conservation community it became impossible to ignore the violence epidemic when a vibrant young man named Deshawn Johnson tragically lost his life to gun violence at a traffic light on May 14th, 2017. Deshawn had the bad luck to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was just 23 years old.

Deshawn caught the nature “bug” as a young teenager. In high school Deshawn joined the Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps. This summer program engages high school youth in paid, hands-on conservation activities that improve habitat for wildlife through invasive plant removal activities. It also provides basic job skills, team building, and environmental education opportunities.  Deshawn embraced the Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps and all it had to offer and soon was one of its star members. Each summer he was welcomed back because of his passion for nature, care for others, and hard work.

Deshawn was passionate about caring for nature and worked hard to become a skilled professional land management technician with Friends of the Forest Preserves. He was a burgeoning leader in the conservation field, an ambassador for nature to his own community, as well as an inspiration for young people wishing to pursue a job in conservation. Deshawn was proud to graduate Cum Laude with an engineering degree from DeVry University in 2016; a degree he acquired while working full time in the field. He planned to use his engineering degree to pursue a career in green infrastructure and sustainability.  

His death is a profound loss to his family, our community and our city. While nothing can fill the void created by the gun violence on that Saturday night, there is something that we can do to honor Deshawn’s life and legacy.  The Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps was an important part of Deshawn’s life and we want to offer a teenager like Deshawn a position with the program in 2018. The Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps is a popular program. Each year we receive 300+ applications, but, due to funding limitations, are able to offer only 60-70 positions. Your support would allow us to dedicate these funds to the hiring of a young man from Deshawn’s community.  

Our goal is to raise $5,000, which will cover the youth’s wages, transportation, insurance, service clothing, and a share of the field leader costs to manage and mentor the youth every day.  

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  Donations can be made online HERE or checks can be sent to Friends of the Forest Preserves, 411 S. Wells St. Suite 300, Chicago, IL 60607.  All donations are tax deductible. Questions? Please contact Alice Brandon at