Since its founding in 2012, the Foundation has granted $1.8 million to support programs that increase access to the Forest Preserves of Cook County. These programs provide enriching summer internships to young people from low-income familes; fund ecological restoration and trail maintanence work; offer opportunities to honor or memorialize a person or event with a tree planting or bench dedication. We believe that these programs benefit the community and the Preserves.​​

Priority Programs

Youth Conservation Corps

Youth who have meaningful connections to the natural world, especially under the guidance of role models, form strong connections to nature and feel empowered to make a difference as stewards of their environment.  They also gain the many benefits of actively playing, exploring and/or working outside.

Conservation Corps programs accomplish habitat restoration goals while providing teens with employment experience, science education, and a self-esteem enriching experience.

conservation corps
Members of the Conservation Corps assigned to Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, summer 2019.

Forest Preserve Foundation priority programs include:

2019 grants awarded

Restoration of Cap Sauers Holding ‐ $250,000

Restoration at Galloping Hill Fen ‐ $10,000

Conservation@Home ‐ $5,000

Planting at Brookfield Woods Forest Preserve ‐ $135

Student Conservation Association - $50,000

Forest Preserve Experience Program - $11,200

2018 grants awarded

Forest Preserve Experience Program — $75,000

Student Conservation Association (SCA) — $50,000

Developing the Next Generation of Outdoor Leaders: Curriculum and Training in Public Engagement — $27,500

2017 grants awarded

Forest Preserve Experience/Conservation Corps — $50,000

Restoration of Cranberry Slough — $48,690

Volunteer Recognition Program — $950

Marriott Employee Workday Supplies — $360

dan ryan woods nature play
Nature Play and Treehouse in Dan Ryan Woods. Photo by Cassandra West
nature art model
A model of the student-designed nature art that will be erected in preserves.

Family programming

The Foundation seeks to make sure everyone has access to the Forest Preserves of Cook County. We raise funds that support Nature Play areas, public nature-based art and camp gear libraries.

The Foundation and the National Recreation Foundation supported the Dan Ryan Nature Play and Recreation project that opened in July 2019.

A grant from the Foundation and CSX funded a public art project at the Forest Preserves General Headquarters and Trailside Museum  in River Forest.  Oak Park River Forest High School art students designed the sculptures,  constructed from buckthorn that had been removed  from Thatcher Woods.

cap sauers restoratio
Heavy equipment brought in during wintertime restoration work at Cap Sauers Holding Preserve.

Ecological restoration

Keeping the 70,000 acres of the Forest Preserves of Cook County ecologically healthy is a Foundation priority.  A healthy ecosystem benefits everyone. The Preserves provide natural habitats of many animals and plants. They aid with stormwater management. And all trees in the Preserves help improve our air quality.

To maintain our public lands takes many people—Preserves staff, volunteer stewards, Conservation Corps crews and hired contractors.

The Foundation supports this vital work by raising funds to supplement ongoing restoration projects in the Preserves. We have supported restoration projects in Cap Sauers Holding Preserves, Cranberry Slough, Shoe Factory Road Prairie and Galloping Fen. These efforts make the Forest Preserves more vibrant, resilient and welcoming for everyone.

Interested in getting involved?

Email Shelley A. Davis, President, to discuss ways you can get involved in helping preserve, protect and educate others about all the Forest Preserve of Cook County has to offer.

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