Press Releases

For Immediate Release: Openlands Dedicates New Chicago Public School Garden on October 17 at McPherson Elementary School

October 14, 2014

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes

(Media inquiries only)



(Chicago – October 14, 2014) Openlands celebrates its continued effort to green Chicago Public Schools through its Building School Gardens program with the opening of its latest school garden, located in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood. Over the past seven years, Openlands has worked to transform schools across Chicago to be gateways to nature, supporting teachers, parents, and the surrounding community with opportunities for students to learn and find inspiration in the outdoors.

A dedication ceremony will be held at McPherson Elementary School, 4728 N. Wolcott Avenue, Chicago, on October 17 at 9am. Students and teachers, along with school and local officials, will be present to celebrate the completion of the garden’s installation.

The Building School Gardens program began in 2007 with a mission of transforming Chicago’s bleak paved schoolyards into living classrooms that provide open green space for all.  Since the program’s launch, Openlands’ has installed 54 gardens to date on Chicago Public School campuses across the city, with three more this fall. BMO Harris Bank is the Principal Sponsor of the program. For more information on Building School Gardens, to be supporter of the program, or to register a school, visit

“Outdoor learning spaces such as these provide the perfect setting for students to discover wonder and connection with the natural world,” said Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann. “Children represent the future of environmental leadership and responsibility—allowing students the opportunity to engage with nature is essential to the continued growth of our communities, city, and region. We are grateful to our partners, both public and private, for their ongoing support with this effort.”

“Supporting Openlands and its Building School Gardens program is a natural fit for BMO Harris Bank,” said Wendy Raymer, Director, U.S. Community Affairs, BMO Financial Group. “It combines environment and education in a unique and effective way. We are absolutely thrilled with the initiative and believe it provides sustainable enrichment to CPS students and teachers alike.”

McPherson Elementary School’s garden is part of a master plan created by Principal Carmen Mendoza, Alderman Ameya Pawar, Friends of McPherson, and Openlands. The garden includes beds with native plants, an outdoor classroom and stage, pathways, and a memorial garden. The master plan includes new playground areas, raised beds for growing fruits and vegetables, and plantings that surround the school.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, national wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, visit

About BMO Harris Bank

BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida. BMO Harris Bank’s commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge, and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, go to the company fact sheet. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris BankSM is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with approximately 1,600 branches, and approximately $542 billion in assets (as of Jan. 31, 2013).

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