Our Mission

Located among pristine woodlands in the Ryerson historic home in Riverwoods, Il., Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods promotes the importance of nature for nurturing personal and community wellbeing, cultivating creativity, and inspiring learning. In doing so, we honor the legacy of those who came before us on this land and champion a region where people will care about and for nature.

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Our History:

A group of private property owners, concerned about protecting the natural beauty of the land, bands together to leave an environmentally significant, intact woodland to the public.

Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods is nestled in 565 acres of magnificent woodlands in the heart of Lake County, Illinois. The preserve’s rich natural and cultural history is recognized by its dual designation as an Illinois Nature Preserve and as a Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places. This site was originally home and hunting grounds of the Potawatomi people and other local indigenous communities.

Brushwood Center was founded in 1984 to support the preservation of the woods and encourage people to connect to this natural area. Brushwood Center was established following the transfer of the land and home from Nora and Edward Ryerson along with several neighboring families’ properties to Lake County Forest Preserves.

Originally named Friends of Ryerson Woods, the organization began as an advisory committee of the Lake County Forest Preserves and evolved into an independent 501 c(3) organization now known as Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods. Brushwood Center operates through a license agreement with Lake County Forest Preserves and receives no direct financial support from the Preserves. Our programs thrive thanks to the generosity of individual and corporate donors who support our high quality, educational programming throughout the year.

Thanks to our new strategic plan, Brushwood Center has renewed its commitment to the arts and nature with an invigorated focus on community partnerships, inclusion, and promotion of art and nature for personal and community wellbeing. We actively focus our programs on veterans and low-income communities in Lake and Cook Counties.

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