Our History

Irvine Nature Center was founded in 1975 in an old barn at St. Timothy’s School in Stevenson, Md. Today, Irvine is the only private, non-profit nature center in the region. We owe our existence to Olivia Irvine Dodge, our generous founder, who recognized the importance of preserving ecologically significant places and providing environmental education for children and adults.

Irvine has emerged as a leader among Maryland’s environmental education centers. With a unique and comprehensive focus on the natural science of the Piedmont, Irvine serves more than 80,000 children and adults each year with more than 800 public and school programs. We have also pioneered several important initiatives, including Household Hazardous Waste Day, Baltimore County River and Streams Conference, and Native Plant Seminar. In 1975, we launched the Jones Falls Clean-Up with the Green Spring Valley Garden Club. Today, this annual initiative – now known as Project Clean Stream – attracts more than 2,700 volunteers, and is the largest watershed clean-up in the region.

In August of 2000, the state of Maryland donated to Irvine 116 acres on Garrison Forest Road in the Caves Valley area of Baltimore County.  It is surrounded by an additional 1,200 acres of land protected by conservation easements. The land was formerly part of the Rosewood Center. Our new site, which opened its doors in September 2008, offers a great diversity of Piedmont habitats including open wetlands, upland forest, meadow and forested wetlands, and includes the headwaters of the Jones Falls and Gwynn’s Falls watersheds.

In 2016, thanks to a generous donation from the Charles T. Bauer Charitable Foundation, Irvine purchased an adjacent 90 acres of land, bringing the total acreage to 210. Irvine has undertaken significant habitat restoration and enhancement projects and created numerous demonstration gardens on the site. We invite everyone to come to Irvine to explore all of the ways in which we hold fast to our mission of inspiring appreciation and respect for the natural world, increasing awareness of environmental issues, and encouraging individuals to sustain Earth’s ecosystems.