40TH ANNUAL SMITH NATURE SYMPOSIUM AWARDS DINNER
Connecting to Our Common Ground
Connecting to Our Common Ground
Baratunde Thurston is an Emmy-nominated, multi-platform storyteller and producer operating at the intersection of race, tech, democracy, and climate. He is the host and executive producer of the PBS television series America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston, creator and host of How To Citizen with Baratunde which Apple named one of its favorite podcasts of 2020, and a founding partner of the new media startup Puck.
Watch the new season of AMERICA OUTDOORS with BARATUNDE THURSTON! The show returns September 6, 2023 with a brand-new season as the best-selling writer, podcaster and comedian travels the country to uncover our complex relationship with the outdoors. From biologists saving snapping turtles to BIPOC mountain bikers, Baratunde meets a fascinating cast of characters with one thing in common: a passion for being outside.
Donna La Pietra and Bill Kurtis will grace the stage as Emcees of the 40th Annual Smith Nature Symposium. Their contributions to news-broadcasting, documentary film production, and conservation have made them longtime legends in Chicagoland. After starting his career as a journalist, Bill became the news anchor for CBS at Chicago’s WBBM Channel 2, where he met Donna, who would become the channel’s Executive Producer. Bill is also the judge and voice of the popular news radio show, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! Donna and Bill are known for their documentary film production company, Kurtis Productions, and for their devotion to supporting local non-profits.
On May 6, 1984, more than 350 people gathered for the first Smith Nature Symposium featuring Roger Tory Peterson. Organized under the leadership of Barbi Donnelley, Symposium Co-Chair, this jam-packed convening of nature-lovers became the first of four decades of annual Symposia memorializing the significant civic legacy of Hermon Dunlap and Ellen Thorne Smith, who donated their land and cabin to help form Ryerson Woods. Hermon, or Dutch, was chair and CEO of Marsh & McLennan, and led The Chicago Community Trust, Newberry Library, and many other Chicago Institutions. Ellen was a philanthropic leader and champion of nature with organizations such as The Field Museum and Chicago Zoological Society.
1984 – Roger Tory Peterson
1985 – Dr. George Archibald
1986 – Walter T. Fisher
1987 – Nancy Ryerson Ranney
1988 – Dr. John Fitzpatrick
1989 – Maxine Hunter
1990 – E. Leland Webber
1991 – Barbara C. Donnelley
1992 – Susan Spears
1993 – Abbott Laboratories
1994 – Roy O. Gromme
1995 – Bill Kurtis
1996 – Fran Harty
1997 - Dr. Melvin Taylor
1998 – Dr. William Beecher
1999 – Andrea S. Moore
2000 – Adele Simmons
2001 – John McCarter
2002 – George A. Ranney, Sr.
2003 – Dr. George Rabb
2004 – John Ragner
2005 – Dr. Debra K. Moskovits
2006 – Chicago Wilderness
2007 – Gerald W. Adelmann
2008 – Cameron Davis
2009 – Barbara Whitney Carr
2010 – Stephen Bartram
2011 - William D. Sturm
2012 – Steven Apfelbaum
2013 – Dr. Douglas F. Stotz
2014 – Joel Greenberg
2015 – Victoria and George A. Ranney, Jr. 2016 – Judith Stockdale
2017 – Deborah Lahey
2018 – Robert Redford & Sibylle Szaggers Redford
2019 – Amory Lovins and Judy Hill Lovins 2020 – Bill McKibben and Sue Halpern
2021 – Winona LaDuke
2022 – Cristina Mittermeier & Paul Nicklen
2023 – Baratunde Thurston
Smith Nature Symposium 40th Anniversary Chairs
Barbara C. Donnelley
Adam Carson and Nydia Gonzalez-Carson
Teresa H. Horton
Karen and Bob Lewis
Suzanne Malec-McKenna and Joe Ferguson
Celeste Flores and Thomas Maillard
Judy and Tony Iacuzzi
Jean Meilinger and John Schneider
Lois Morrison and Justin Daab
Andrea S. Moore
Ellen Rudnick and Paul Earle
A. Gail and Bill Sturm
• Directly support programs in our community for youth, families, seniors, and Veterans.
• Name recognition opportunities throughout the Smith Series.
• Celebrate at the in-person Awards Dinner and closing VIP event, honoring Writer, Activist and TV host Baratunde Thurston.
• Join a community of supporters committed to a thriving and equitable world for people and nature.
Eliana Bernat grew up in Vernon Hills, and is currently a sophomore at University of Wisconsin-Madison studying Chemistry. Eliana has spent years gaining experience in environmental justice work, serving as a Youth Ambassador for Brushwood Center's Collaborative Conversations: Anti-racism & the Environment Youth Cohort back in 2021, and interning at Clean Power Lake County. This past summer, she served as the Green Chemistry Intern for Coming Clean, an environmental health collaborative. Eliana wants to further environmental justice work through her career in chemistry, and is planning to put the award towards her continued studies.
Tyler Bolden was born and raised in Lake County, and is currently a Junior at Warren Township High School. Tyler's love for the environment comes from his time as both a student and volunteer with Cool Learning Experience, where he has connected with all kinds of nature spaces and helped others connect as well. He is passionate about doing his part to create a clean, healthy future for others, and wants to bring this community-focus to a future career in business. Tyler plans to put the awards towards the cost of his future college education, and aspires to start his own accounting/personal finance business for people who struggle with budgeting.
Sunday, June 11th - Saturday, September 2nd
Brushwood Center’s exhibition, Visible, presents artworks from twenty-six artists from Lake County, Chicago, and beyond. This exhibition consists of interviews, maps, and artworks highlighting how systemic inequities impact people’s access to a healthy environment, and how our resilient community is already working to create change.
Photo: Liberation, 2020 | Dawaune Lamont Hayes
CONNECTING TO OUR COMMON GROUND
Sunday, September 10th - Sunday, October 29th
Opening, Sunday September 10th
Join this special exhibition in honor of our 2023 Smith Nature Symposium Awardee, Baratunde Thurston. Brushwood Center, in partnership with Hyde Park Art Center and collector, artist, and environmental scientist Patric McCoy, presents an exhibition of artwork celebrating the different ways in which we connect with and are shaped by nature.
Artwork: One Step Beyond | Renee Robbins
America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston Screening
at Wayfarer Theaters, Highland Park
Sunday, September 14th | 7pm
Join Brushwood Center and Wayfarer Theaters for a screening of an episode of America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston. The screening will be followed by a moderated panel about culture and community in the great outdoors.
The screening will take place at Wayfarer Theaters in Highland Park. Wayfarer Theaters is a new collective space for films, live events, and conversation, designed to strengthen the bonds of friendship in our community.
DRIP & CULTURE - ON THE GROUNDS
Every other Saturday through September 16th
Join Brushwood Center and local Waukegan coffee shop Drip & Culture, for a partnership series: Drip & Culture - On the Grounds. This series activates the recommendations of Brushwood’s newest report: Health, Equity, and Nature: A Changing Climate in Lake County, IL with community-centered planning and discussion.
The discussions are co-facilitated by Brushwood Center Staff and the Drip & Culture team, with a featured community leadership or organization voice. Meet us at the steps of Brushwood Center for a hike, coffee, and conversation!
BRUSHWOOD CENTER PROGRAM SPONSORS
The Buchanan Foundation
The Builders Initiative
The Chicago Community Trust
The Grainger Foundation
Gorter Family Foundation
Harold M. and Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation
Hunter Family Foundation
Illinois Arts Council Agency
Illinois Humanities Mid-America Arts Alliance
National Recreation Foundation
John and Kathleen Schreiber Foundation
BRUSHWOOD CENTER BOARD OF DIRECTORS
A. Gail Sturm
Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods is committed to enabling the participation and enjoyment of our programming and events for all visitors. At Brushwood Center, you will have open access to accessible parking and entrance to the house, a gender neutral bathroom, and changing tables.
If you require certain accommodations in order to observe or attend our events, or have questions regarding accessibility of our facilities, please contact our Director of Public Programs and Music, Parker Nelson, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (224) 633-2424 ext. 1.
Programming and events at Brushwood Center are available to everyone, including but not limited to age, disability, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, and sexual orientation.
Site Photography by: In Life Photography, Michael Kardas Photography, Ewa Pasek Photography, and Brushwood Staff
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Monday - Thursday & Saturday: 10am - 3pm
Sunday: 1pm - 3pm
and by appointment