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

Green and Growing Summit

The Green and Growing Summit is a gathering designed to strengthen the connectivity of Chicago’s garden education movement building on the work of the Green Teachers Network and the CPS Garden Educator Cohort.

Birds in My Neighborhood

Join our community as a volunteer and lead in-class lessons, bird walks and field trips. Apply to become a Birds in My Neighborhood educator.

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.