Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest’s mission, Connecting People with Nature, was the inspiration that compelled Isaac W. Bernheim to purchase over 12,500 acres of eroded and heavily logged land in Bullitt and Nelson Counties in Kentucky in 1929. Mr. Bernheim established the I.W. Bernheim Foundation in 1929, to ensure the long-term protection and management of his living legacy. Bernheim’s gift of land became a place where all people could find peace, understanding, and common interest in nature, regardless of race, creed or economic status. Today, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest encompasses 16,137 acres and is the largest privately held forest in the eastern United States dedicated to environmental education and conservation.
Hosting over 500,000 visitors and providing nature-based education to over 12,000 students and families annually, every generation can participate in life-long learning experiences at Bernheim. Visitors can explore our scenic woodlands crossed by 45 miles of hiking trails; attends an award-winning nature-based education program; volunteers with Horticulture in Bernheim's 600-acre arboretum; meets an artist creating "Art in Nature" as part of Bernheim's thirty-nine year Artist in Residency Program; participates in a "Free Play Day" hosted by Bernheim's Children at Play Network; enjoys a meal harvested from Bernheim's Edible Garden and prepared at Isaac's Cafe; and through Bernheim's ecological stewardship, scientific research, and conservation.
Bernheim’s vision is to become “a nationally treasured leader in ecological stewardship that inspires the exploration of our deep connections with nature.” Framed by this vision, Bernheim Forest initiatives strategically address how we approach our work, whether conservation, horticulture, education, play, art or outdoor recreation, through four Big Ideas –
o EXPLORING DEEP CONNECTIONS WITH NATURE Bernheim is well positioned to provide people with opportunities and environments that encourage deep personal interactions with nature over time.
o LEADERSHIP IN ECOLOGICAL STEWARDSHIP Bernheim will continuously learn from nature, form innovative relationships with individuals, organizations, and corporations, and be a leader in ecologically focused planning.
o ACTIONS BEYOND OUR BORDERS Bernheim’s future will be built on relationships, context and connectedness. At Bernheim, we believe connecting with nature is important for the health and well-being of our community, and that can happen far beyond the boundaries of our forest. That’s why we are dedicated to working with others on relevant and beneficial projects to help our community and the surrounding communities connect with nature.
GREEN ROOFS Did you know that Bernheim designs, installs and maintains green roofs? From the University of Louisville’s Nucleus Building (Headquarters of Atria Senior Living) to the top of the American Life Building on the Louisville Belvedere, Bernheim brings nature to the rooftops of the urban landscape. Living roofs help reduce pollution and provide habitat for birds and butterflies. They incorporate climate-friendly features, including the reduction of radiant and reflected heat; plants that help to clean rain water and city air. Additionally, living roofs act as additional insulation, reducing utility costs in both the summer and winter. Bernheim believes every roof should be a living resource..
oTHOUGHT LEADERSHIP Bernheim will actively support ongoing communication among people with a passion for improving how communities and individuals coexist with nature in a healthy ecology.