Ecology Center

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The Evanston Ecology Center is a City of Evanston Facility, striving to foster a greater appreciation, awareness and knowledge of the natural environment and our interdependence with it through educational programs and services.

The Evanston Environmental Association (EEA) helps supports the Evanston Ecology Center, the Center's educational programs, and the Ladd Arboretum. Learn more about these programs.


Classes are offered year-round for children, adults, families, schools, and organized groups such as scouts. For more information, check out Evanston Life Magazine.


Ecology Center Program Opportunities include:

  • Nature themed summer camp programming for ages 3-14
  • Four community gardens with plots available for rent to Evanston residents
  • School field trip and outreach programs covering a variety of topics and themes
  • Scout badge programs for Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts
  • Guided Birthday Parties in our animal classroom starting at age 4 on available Saturdays and Sundays
  • Educator loan boxes are available for free for two week periods and cover a variety of Illinois natural history information
  • Free "Access to Fishing" youth program at Lovelace Park. Drop by every Saturday, June through August, from 10am–1pm, at Lovelace Park. Kids under age 16 years don't need a license, but must be accompanied by an adult.Equipment and bait provided.


Ecology for web

The Evanston Ecology Center's Multi-Purpose Room is available to host your next event! For more information and to request a reservation, view and complete the online rental contract form



Snowshoe rentals are available Monday thru Friday, 9am to 3:30pm and Saturday from 8a-12p, December - February as long as there is at least 3 inches of snow. Dress warmly and wear flat-bottom winter boots.


Community Gardens

The City of Evanston offers residents 220 plots for rent from March through mid-November. Returning gardeners have first priority to renew their contracts, so each year there is a limited number of plots available. A lottery is now used to allocate the available plots.

The community garden program is strictly available to Evanston residents. To participate in this program, you must live in ZIP code 60201 or 60202 and provide proof of residency at the time of registration for the lottery.

Lottery Schedule

Thursday, January 10, 2019 Lottery Registration Begins
Tuesday, March 5, 2019 Registration for Lottery Ends at 5pm
Saturday, March 9, 2019 Lottery in Multi-Purpose Room Starting at 3pm

To register for the Community Garden Lottery, submit the following form in person with proof of Evanston residency by March 5 at 5pm at the Evanston Ecology Center:  Community Garden Lottery Registration Form 2019

Please read Community Garden Lottery Process 2019 carefully.

Garden Sites

  • James Park Gardens, south of Oakton between McCormick Blvd. and Dodge Ave. This is a locked site. In addition to full and half plots, this site has 4 raised beds.

  • Twiggs Canal Gardens, by the intersection of Bridge and Simpson, on the south side of North Shore Channel in Twiggs Park. This site has full and half plots and eight raised beds.

  • McCormick Gardens, at McCormick Blvd. and Bridge St., across the street from the Ecology Center. This site has full and half plots.

  • Lighthouse Gardens, off of Sheridan Road, north of the Grosse Point Lighthouse and adjacent to Noah's Playground for Everyone in Lawson Park. This is the smallest site with 6½ plots.

 Depending on the overall schedule, weather and availability, the City provides wood chips and a water source at each site as part of the community gardening program. Gardeners must sign a waiver and a gardening agreement, which includes providing 3-5 hours of community garden service each season, in addition to the annual plot fee.


2019 Fees

Half Plot (approx. 200 square feet): $42.50 for all sites, plus community garden service
Raised bed (Twiggs): $38.00, plus community garden service
Raised bed (James Park): $25.00, plus community garden service

The raised beds are approximately 20 inches off the ground for ease of use. Fee assistance is available to qualified Evanston residents.


For more information, gardeners can contact Mary Jaminski at or call 847-448-8256.










In 2014, the Evanston Ecology Center celebrated its 40th anniversary. The video above highlights the center's history and the great impact it has had on the community.