Keep Growing 2020: The Ten-Year Strategic Plan
Chicago Botanic Garden

Annual Report


Susan A. Willetts

Susan Willetts
Chairman of the Board

In 1962, a group of visionaries began planning for a public garden to be built outside of Chicago on land owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. A decade later, the Chicago Botanic Garden welcomed its first visitors. Funding needs then, as now, were met by public and private contributions made possible by individuals who shared the dream. Today, 40 years later, the Garden has grown in beauty and importance to its ever-expanding constituency. Its funding requirements have grown as well.

Sophia Siskel

Sophia Siskel
President & CEO

Happy 40th birthday to the Chicago Botanic Garden! There is much to celebrate as we reflect on the evolution of this extraordinary place, and anticipate its future. Last year, the Garden completed the second year of its ten-year strategic plan, “Keep Growing.” In every way, 2011 exemplified this theme.

Attendance and Membership

2011 Attendance:
The highest in Garden history—setting records for the third year in a row.

2011 Membership:
member households
Approximately 73% of members renew their membership each year.

Urban Agriculture

In 2011, Green Youth Farm and Windy City Harvest program participants, along with community partners, harvested more than
41,000 lbs
of produce—some of it from a new garden at Kraft Foods—that was sold at farmers' markets or donated to food pantries in low-income neighborhoods in Cook and Lake Counties.

Science Programs

The Conservation Land Management Intern Program trained and placed
99 young biologists
in internships across the country. These internships involve work in botany or wildlife-related fields, including seed collection and monitoring threatened and endangered species and habitats in 12 western states. Since the program’s inception, the Garden has trained more than 700 interns, mainly for the BLM.

Education Programs

In 2011, we welcomed more than
5,319 adults
who participated in programs offered by the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden—including 375 continuing education, certificate, symposia, and conference programs—and75,000children
who attended 341 youth education programs.