The mission of Briar Bush is to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to explore and protect nature by encouraging curiosity and scientific inquiry.
The History of Briar Bush
Long before it was an official nature center, this property was loved and appreciated for its beauty and serenity by people of all ages. Today, we honor the legacy of the Griscoms by inviting people of all ages to experience and enjoy the natural world in their very own backyard nature center.
Quaker couple Everett and Florence Griscom moved to Abington as newlyweds. Over the years, the Griscom land became a refuge for wildlife displaced by urban development. For more than 50 years, the Griscoms shared their knowledge and love of nature with Scouts, school groups and avid birders.
With the passing of the Griscoms, area residents, led by T. Russell Frank, fought to protect their property and convinced Abington Township to purchase the land.
The Friends of Briar Bush (FOBB), a private non-profit, was created by local citizens with the goal of meeting educational and community objectives.
Thanks to a generous donation from Hank and Barbara Haines, a windmill was erected which would pump underground water into the pond.
A capital campaign and a grant from William Penn Foundation afforded BBNC a complete renovation of facilities and programs.
BBNC received a 2nd Institutional Museum Assessment Program grant (the 1st in 1986) from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) and American Association of Museums (AAM). The self-assessment and peer review laid the foundation for a five year strategic plan.
A 5-year Strategic Plan was initiated and utilized. A 3rd MAP grant was sought and received to study the Public Dimension aspects of our organization, and within several months, the peer review was successfully completed.
Through a federal grant and partnership with ThinkGreen, LCC, Briar Bush's entrance received a complete make-over. The new design increased safety for drivers and pedestrians, created more parking and allowed for increased access by bus. The landscaping blended in with the rest of the nature center, incorporating native plants, saving canopy trees and increasing rain-water retention.
Briar Bush celebrated its 100th year by hosting over 35 Centennial Celebrations, including parties, dinners, tours and environmental trips. This extremely successful endeavor raised funds for special Centennial Projects which will be implemented over the coming years.
• Reforestation and native plantings for wildlife habitats
• Pocket Naturalist Field Guide to Briar Bush
• "Think & Go Green" sustainability initiative and advocacy for the entire community
• Natural Playscape design and development for the Center
• Endowment growth for the future
Thanks to generous funding from the Asplundh Foundation, Abington Township, and Friends of Briar Bush, the Briar Bush Butterfly House opened in June 2009.
Dede Long, Director of Briar Bush Nature Center since May 1979, retired in March. and Mike Weilbacher was selected to fill her shoes. Over the next year, he helped increase programming and visiblity in the community.
One of the 2008 Centennial Projects came to fruition and the Briar Bush Nature Playscape was opened in May. The natural play area features a running stream, sand pit, crawling and walking tunnels, balancing logs and other opportunities for outdoor play. It has quickly become a favorite gathering spot for parents and children of all ages.
Over the summer, Greta Brunschwyler came on board as Executive Director.
Thanks to a grant from DCNR, Briar Bush began a master site planning process.
Mark Fallon, Senior Naturalist awarded the National Garden Club of America's Hull Award for outstanding achievement furthering the environmental education of children.
Briar Bush awarded for its outstanding environmental educational program by the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators (PAEE) and Educator, Melissa Eldridge awarded the PAEE Daisy Klinedinst Award for educators with particular promise.