Brushwood Center Honors Baratunde Thurston, Writer, Climate Activist, TV Host, with 2023 Environmental Leadership Award

Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods announces that Baratunde Thurston,

writer, climate activist, and host of the PBS series "America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston," is the recipient of the 2023 Environmental Leadership Award. He will be honored at the 40th Anniversary of

the Smith Nature Symposium Awards dinner on September 29.

The Environmental Leadership Award recognizes outstanding environmental conservation, education,and advocacy contributions. Previous honorees distinguished figures in climate action, environmental science, and environmental activism, including Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen, Winona LaDuke, Bill McKibben and Sue Halpern, Amory Lovins and Judy Hill Lovin, and Robert Redford and Sibylle Szaggers Redford. The Award is the capstone of the annual Smith Symposium, a series of events

honoring the significant civic legacy of Hermon Dunlap and Ellen Thorne Smith, who donated their land and cabin to help form Ryerson Woods. Brushwood Center's programs improve health equity and access

to nature in Lake County, IL, and the Chicago region for youth, families, and Veterans.

Thurston is a multifaceted Emmy-nominated, multi-platform storyteller and producer operating at the intersection of race, technology, democracy, and climate. His PBS television series America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston, which premiered its second season on Sept. 6, focuses on people's diversity of experiences and connections to nature. He also is the 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.

"We are thrilled to recognize Baratunde Thurston with our Environmental Leadership Award," said Catherine Game, Executive Director of Brushwood Center. "Throughout his career, Baratunde has demonstrated a commitment to climate justice, activism, storytelling, and the importance of access to

nature for creating a just society."

The Smith Nature Symposium Awards dinner will be held on Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. at the Greenbelt Cultural Center 1215 N. Green Bay Road, North Chicago, IL. For more information about the event, please visit or contact Mirja Spooner Haffner, Director of Development, at

About the Smith Nature Symposium

The Smith Nature Symposium memorializes 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. She authored the book Chicagoland Birds: Where and When to Find Them. This year's Smith Nature Symposium theme, Connecting To Our Common Ground, is inspired by honoree Baratunde Thurston and celebrates our 40th anniversary through an inspiring line-up of artists, programs, and change-makers.

About Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods

Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods works collaboratively with community partners, artists, healthcare providers, and scientists to improve health equity and access to nature in Lake County, Illinois, and the Chicago region. We engage people with the outdoors through the arts, environmental education, and community action. Brushwood Center's programs focus on youth, families, Military Veterans, and those facing racial and economic injustices. Brushwood Center collaborates closely with community partners to offer art and nature programs to youth, families, Military Veterans, seniors, artists, and area residents. More information about Brushwood Center can be found at

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.