Trusting the Land

Since 2001, the Barrington Area Conservation Trust has taught us to how care for our open spaces for today and the future


The Barrington Area Conservation Trust is at the center of a large and growing multi-community collaboration built around understanding the importance of our rare and exceptional open spaces, and the need to preserve them now and for future generations. The BACT staff gathers at Barrington’s White House where their office is located, but more often than not, their work takes place in fields, streams, schools, and at people’s homes.

Part of the nonprofit’s vision is to create a central education program that integrates existing classroom activity with conservation teaching, as well as to connect with other social and civic organizations to introduce conservation topics and standards, offer opportunities to work together, and offer a chance to recognize achievements.

Outdoor Classrooms

Few school districts have conservation classrooms and nature preserves on their school properties or within walking distance. Barrington 220 and BACT have partnered to utilize the many outdoor classrooms in our midst, as well as to work with Barrington High School teachers in the classroom and on the curriculum. There is hands-on field work on the north side of campus at Flint Creek during school hours. Students walk with their teachers and BACT’s Susan Lenz to the stream, review the science assignment, gather their materials, and begin stirring up the stream bottom to collect specimens that are evaluated and noted with data collection. Stream monitoring helps students learn about biodiversity and stream health, why it matters, and the data is forwarded to help regional studies.

A fall trip to All Grass Farms in Dundee offered students a chance to learn about why the farm’s owner, Cliff McConville, strives to raise animals and produce using the most natural, humane, and environmentally sustainable farming practices possible. During their tour of the farm this past fall, students visited the vegetable fields, and the various grazing areas for the animals. They talked with Lucas Gully, who works at the farm, about the health-conscious conditions the animals are raised in, and why they believe such practices are important and necessary.

Internships are another leadership outreach between BACT and students from surrounding communities. Each summer, students sign up for a robust summer conservation training program that culminates in a personal presentation at the end of the internship about what they learned. BACT also engages area youth through its joint projects with Scouts, and by having a teen advisory board.

Take a look at some of the work of BACT, see a map of its large service area, and celebrate a list of impressive accomplishments since its founding at the start of the new century.

BACT staff members outside Barrington’s White House where their office is located. From left: Susan Lenz, Director of Community Engagement and Education; Nan Alonso, Director of Communications; Emily Solberg, Director of Development and Volunteers; and Lisa Woolford, Executive Director.

Oscar Ramirez

Organic Farm Visit: I learned how much work is put into having an organic farm [at All Grass Farms] and how much better it is to not have preservatives and hormones in the food we eat. I learned about different types of animals and fruit that are all organic with no pesticides. Having pesticides can lead to pollution which is one of the main causes of extinction of animals (HIPPCO). Having organic foods can also taste better than food having preservatives.

Working with BACT as a student in high school is important because BACT shows you how to conserve wildlife and preserve agriculture. These things can open up new jobs or ideas on how to preserve the world and show why organic farms are important, or why protecting certain animals like bees help the world become a healthier place.

Stream Monitoring: BACT Exec. Dir. Lisa Woolford analyzes stream health in 2015 with students at Flint Creek in Pederson Preserve in 2015. Students gathered macroinvertebrates from the stream bed, reviewed the collection data and documented it for a larger study in Illinois

BHS Outdoor Classroom:Susan Lenz and Environmental Science teacher Jeff McMahon at Flint Creek by Barrington High School for stream monitoring.

Sonia Halabi

Hands-on Learning: What I learned most from the trip to the [All Grass] farm is how the plants are kept in fresh and good condition without using any GMO. That is important, because if the plants are kept how they naturally are without using any chemicals, that is the healthiest way humans can maintain themselves.

Working with BACT is important for students in high school, because students should learn how their food is kept and that they should make a good healthy choice to eat plants that have non-GMO. The condition of the plants we eat is very important, so students should learn about how the plants are growing naturally, and are the healthiest to eat verses plants grown with chemicals.”

Barrington Area Conservation Trust


  • Garden Club of America’s Club
  • Conservation Commendation (Dec. 2017)
  • Lake County Stormwater Management Commission’s Education, Outreach andMedia Award (2015)

Permanently Preserved Acres Since Inception

  • Easements: 482 acres
  • Nature Preserves: 38 acres
  • Total Easements: 26

BACT Nature Preserves

  • Far Field Nature Preserve
  • Katie’s Marsh
  • Pederson Nature Preserve
  • The Brothers’ Preserve
  • Jack David Mondschine Wildlife Conservation Area

Number of Students Taught in 2017

  • Barrington High School total: 1,000
  • Horticulture: 100
  • Investigations in Biology: 150
  • Environmental Science: 200
  • Biology: 500

BACT Service Area

  • Municipalities: 14
  • Counties: 4
  • Watersheds: 4

Volunteers in 2017

  • People: 336
  • Total Hours: 1,496

Oak Tree Plantings

  • Far Field Preserve: 60 trees

Monarch Waystations

  • Planted by residents: 22
  • Granted to Nonprofits: 14
  • Plants per waystation: 36

BACT Contact Information: Phone: 847-387-3149.