Biggest hurdle to proposed environmental education center cleared with $2 million donation


An nameless donation of $2 million is a large enhance for a proposed “internet zero” academic facility on the Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area close to Riverwoods.

The donation — mentioned to be the second largest present within the 63-year historical past of the Lake County Forest Preserve District — is from the identical supply that offered seed cash almost two years in the past.

“That $200,000 present allowed us to start and get all the best way to this level within the design course of for the constructing,” mentioned Rebekah Snyder, director of group engagement and partnership. “It was simply an thought then.”

Pending remaining particulars, the $2 million donation for building almost assures the district will likely be ready to proceed in spring with the $4.6 million first section of the challenge.

“It’s an enormous step however not the final step,” Snyder mentioned of the pending donation. Other donations are also being pursued, she added.

In an inkling of what was to come, district officers in early June shifted $2 million in capital funds to match grants or donations.

The district additionally has utilized for a $530,000 grant from the Clean Energy Community Foundation, which is predicted to be thought-about in January.

“We’re feeling fairly optimistic, put it that approach,” Snyder mentioned.



Forest commissioners in July accepted a $573,725 contract with Texas-based Lake Flato Architects to produce construction-ready plans for an environmental education center.

The first section contains: two school rooms; a screened porch to function a 3rd classroom when climate permits; a half-mile, absolutely accessible education loop path; minor realignment of the present street to add two bus parking areas; and academic signage and reveals specializing in sustainability facets of the brand new constructing, in accordance to Randy Seebach, director of planning and land preservation.

The new center would substitute two log cabins and different outdated amenities as a part of a $7 million challenge to be in-built two levels. It’s designed as a net-zero power constructing, which means it will produce sufficient renewable power to energy itself.

“That stays much more necessary immediately than in 2020,” Snyder mentioned.

Before the pandemic, about 10,000 college students yearly participated in academic packages at Ryerson.



The $2 million donation was to the Preservation Foundation of the Lake County Forest Preserves, organized in 2007. It is the most important present to that entity and the second-largest to the district general.

The greatest was the 1996 contribution of 261 acres by Lake Forest-based W.W. Grainger Inc. The district bought extra property to create the 329-acre Grainger Woods close to Mettawa.

According to the district web site, the contribution on the time was valued at $14 million. That would equate to about $8.6 million on the present charge of $33,000 per acre, Snyder mentioned.