Brushwood Center


The Smith Nature Symposium is an annual benefit event for Brushwood Center. This year marks the Symposium’s 31st anniversary of bringing luminaries in the field of conservation to the citizens of Lake County, a history which includes such past speakers as Roger Tory Peterson, George Archibald, Lincoln Brower and David Sibley.  The Symposium is presented in collaboration with the Lake County Forest Preserves.

The 2014 Smith Nature Symposium is part of Brushwood Center’s year-long exploration of the theme Extinction / Survival.  With an integrated roster of public programs (workshops, film screenings, book talks, lectures and art exhibitions) running throughout 2014, Brushwood Center offers multiple perspectives on extinction—why it happened in the past and why it continues—as well as on species survival.  Many species have endured trying circumstances and we celebrate their survival.

The Smith Nature Symposium is held in honor of Herman Dunlap "Dutch" Smith and his wife Ellen Thorne Smith who kept a weekend and summer cabin at Ryerson Woods.  Dutch was a businessman and philanthropist involved with the Newberry Library and the Chicago Historical Society.  Ellen founded the Women's Board of The Field Museum and was the author of Birds of Chicagoland. The evening of the Smith Nature Symposium features a reception, benefit dinner, award presentation and keynote address.

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principal sponsor


smith nature symposium

What Killed the Mammoths?
Ancient DNA and Mass Extinctions

Keynote Speaker — Beth Shapiro

Saturday, May 17. 2014

5:30 - 9 p.m.

2014 Host Committee

Alice and Henry Barkhausen • Megan and Frank Beidler • Jean Brown • Sally and Bob Bullard
Laura and Ed Carney • Cathy Carroll • Marion and Gene Cartwright • Bess and Candelario Celio
Gillian Darlow • Deb Donnelley • Barbi and Tom Donnelley
Joanna Karatzas and Philip Enquist • Toni and Rick Feingold • Anne and Calvin Frost
Cindy Kerchmar and Joel Greenberg • Jean and John Greene • Andy Kimmel • Lisa and Erik Lekberg
Judy and John McCarter • Mark Moore • Lois Morrison and Justin Daab
Jossy and Ken Nebenzahl • Linda Gardner Phillips and Rick Phillips
Consie and Seth Low Pierrepont • Liz and Roger Platt • Liza and Al Pyott • Ginevra and Ben Ranney Alison Ranney and Erik Birkerts • Jill Riddell and Tim Brown • Lorra Rudman
Kate and Don Sackman • Adele and John Simmons • Sophia Siskel • Alaka Wali

2014 Event Committee

Lele and Henry Barkhausen • Nick Bothfeld • Nan Buckardt• Judy Iacuzzi • Julia Kemerer

Valerie Lewis • Barbara Rosborough • Gail Sturm • Jill Stites • Sophia Twichell

What makes species go extinct? Can you clone a mammoth? Evolutionary biologist Beth Shapiro analyzes the genes of ancient plants and animals to trace the complex relationship between environment, extinction and the evolution of species.  The discovery two decades ago that DNA could be extracted from fossil remains launched a new field of study ― molecular evolution. Using DNA recovered from these remains, it was possible to trace the evolution of species on a molecular level, actually watching evolution as it happens. By understanding how populations and species evolve, that information can be used to make decisions on how to better manage problems such as species extinction or habitat destruction.

In her lab at the University of California–Santa Cruz, Shapiro analyzes the genes of ancient plants and animals to trace the complex relationship between environment, extinction and the evolution of species.  An international expert on ancient DNA, Shapiro has worked with DNA from mammoths, dodos, passenger pigeons, and other extinct species.  The evening includes a reception, art exhibition and sale, and benefit dinner.  

corporate sponsor

Brushwood. $175 for reception and dinner. $90 for Young Philanthropists* (30 and under with ID). $1,500 for table of 10.   

​$25 ($20 BCRW members*) for keynote and dessert only. Registration required.  Guest attending keynote and dessert only should arrive by 7:50 p.m.

Online registration for this event is now closed.  Walk-ins will be accepted for the keynote only portion of the evening.

JOEL GREENBERG, Recipient of Brushwood Center's 2014 Award for Distinguished Leadership in the World of Nature

​Author and naturalist, Greenberg shares his love and knowledge of nature and conservation in the Chicago region through his writing and speaking. His most recent book, A Feathered River Across the Sky, is an account of the passenger pigeon which went extinct in 1914.   Recognized as “a brilliant, important, haunting and poignant book” by the Chicago Tribune, it provides a cautionary tale to us today that no matter how abundant something is, it can be lost forever if we are not thoughtful in our use.

We are delighted to announce that the Atara String Quartet will be performing at Brushwood Center during the Symposium reception.  During the dinner portion of the event, attendees will enjoy a performance by the Bob Gand's Smooth Jazz Orchestra. Guests can also expect some artistic surprises around the grounds of Brushwood!