Schools and Gardens

Founded in 1963 as a program of the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago, Openlands has always held people and communities as central to our work. From creating open green space on Chicago Public School campuses to facilitating community garden workshops, Openlands seeks to create daily opportunities for people to discover and explore nature in the hope of inspiring life-long environmental stewards.

Photo: DJ Glisson

Birds In My Neighborhood

Birds in my Neighborhood acquaints students and teachers with the common birds in their garden, neighborhood, and city through in-class lessons and field trips.

Building School Gardens

Building School Gardens installs gardens at Chicago public schools to improve school campuses as vital open space for Chicago residents.

Community Gardens

Since 1999 hundreds of trained participants have completed BUGs, Homegrown or the GardenKeeper series, supporting the efforts of Chicago neighborhoods to maintain healthy gardens that provide open spaces and platforms for community enrichment.


Openlands works with partners and regional elementary and high schools to provide a curriculum-based educational experience at the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve called the Eco-Explorations Program.

Space to Grow

Space to Grow: Greening Chicago Schoolyards is an innovative partnership led by Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands to transform Chicago schoolyards into vibrant spaces to play, learn, and be outside, while helping neighborhoods to reduce urban flooding.