Educating Schools and Communities

Children’s connection with nature has a positive impact on their physical and mental health, academic performance, focus, and helps to build positive social skills. In addition, experiencing nature can create a sense that they are part of a greater whole, increasing generosity, humility, and civic participation into adulthood. 

Openlands educational programs create opportunities for students, teachers, and schools that deepen their connection to their community and the natural world. Our programs center long-term relationship-building with school partners, working with students to see nature in a school garden, around their neighborhoods, and across landscapes. We prioritize the collaboration of the school community to strengthen a students relationship with nature not just in the educational environment, but at home too.

From creating open green space on Chicago Public School campuses to facilitating community garden workshops to leading field trips in Lake, Will, or McHenry Counties, 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

Volunteer with Birds in my Neighborhood and organize in-class lessons, bird walks, and field trips.

Building School Gardens

Building School Gardens supports gardens at Chicago Public Schools to improve campuses as vital open space and educational resources.

Space to Grow

Space to Grow transforms Chicago schoolyards into vibrant spaces to play, learn, and be outside, while helping neighborhoods to reduce urban flooding.


The TreeKeepers Course teaches interested individuals the basics of tree care and why its important. After completing the course, certified TreeKeepers lead events and initiatives across Chicago.