Oregon ridge nature center council

Register Now for our Little Acorns Camp for ages 4 - 5. All other sessions of camp are full with a waitlist.
Check the Programs & Events Page for details!

Register Now for our Little Acorns Camp for ages 4 - 5. All other sessions of camp are full with a waitlist. Check the Programs & Events Page for details!

About Us

About Us

About Us


On the land that is now Oregon Ridge Park, there was a very active iron ore and marble mining operation during the mid-19th century. In order to process the iron ore efficiently and profitably, entrepreneurs built an iron-smelting furnace along the Oregon Branch stream. The furnace operated from 1844 to 1858 and at its peak produced 4,500 tons of pig iron annually.

An industrial village developed at the edges of the present-day meadow just to the north of what is now the Nature Center. Workers lived in tenant houses (one of which has been reconstructed along the walkway to the Nature Center) conveniently located near the ore and marble pits and furnace complex. Many of the workers were Irish immigrants or emancipated slaves. Towns such as Oregon Ridge were common in the industrial northeast United States by the mid-19th century.

Historic Photo of the Swimming Facility

In later years, one of the quarries became a popular swimming venue. First owned and operated by the Kurtz Family, the land was purchased by Baltimore County in 1969.

The county operated the Oregon Ridge Swimming Facility until it was closed in 2013. Since then, the Lake Area has been repurposed for Nature Center Programming, Pavilion Rentals and Picnicking.

Please note that swimming is now prohibited.

Photo of the Nature Center Building

Constructed in 1983, the Nature Center building houses wildlife and nature displays to delight all ages, as well as a library and auditorium for Nature Center sponsored events, programs and meetings.

The Nature Center offers a variety of exhibits explaining the history, wildlife and natural environment of the park. Inside are exhibits of the local fauna and flora and displays of our archaeological findings. Our wildlife exhibits include live snakes, turtles, fish, amphibians, honeybees and other creatures.


Oregon ridge nature center council

The Oregon Ridge Nature Center Council, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation created to advise, recommend, promote, conduct and develop, in cooperation with the Department of Recreation and Parks and its Board, nature interpretation and conservation programs and projects primarily at this Nature Center and where appropriate, at other parks, school-recreation centers and open spaces in Baltimore County.

The latest version of the Bylaws of Oregon Ridge Nature Center Council, Inc. are available for download.

The Oregon Ridge Nature Center’s mission is to provide engaging educational and recreational opportunities in nature that will instill a sense of wonder, promote environmental stewardship and create a lasting legacy of positive choices in our own backyards, Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay.

You are invited to become a member of the Oregon Ridge Nature Center Council

As a member of the Oregon Ridge Nature Center Council, you will receive:

  • Advanced notice of programs, events and summer camp via email.
  • Advanced registration and often a reduced cost for programs, summer camp and events.
  • Your choice of a hard copy or emailed link to our quarterly TrailBlazer Newsletter
  • Discounts on Pavilion and Community Garden Rental Fees.
  • Members move to the top of all waitlists.
  • The satisfaction of knowing you are supporting a good cause!

Oregon Ridge Nature Center Council Meetings

The Annual Council Meeting is open to the public and is held at 7:00 p.m. on the first Tuesday in June. All members are encouraged to attend.

The Executive Board meets at 7:00 p.m. on the first Tuesday on each month, except July and August.

The monthly Speakers Series are held at 7:00 p.m. on the third Monday of the month. Our speakers give presentations on a wide range of nature related subjects. You can find details of our upcoming Speaker Series on the Programs and Events Page of this website.

ORNC Council Executive Board

ORNC Baltimore County Staff

Dr. Ralph Brown and Ms. Winny Tan

Council Officers

  • Dr. Ralph Brown, President
  • Winny Tan, Vice President
  • Erin McCleary, Secretary
  • Ann Canoles, Treasurer

Directors at Large

  • Carol Mantegna
  • Karen Jackson
  • Elaine Kasmer

Standing Committee Chairs

  • Audit – Ron Mantegna
  • Budget – Mark Gingerich
  • Environmental Issues – Jim Curtis
  • Exhibits – Shannon Davis
  • Fund Raising – Cole Snyder
  • Grants – Gary Anderson
  • Grounds – vacant
  • Membership – Debbie Bacharach
  • Newsletter – Pat Clagett
  • Public Relations – vacant
  • Scholarship – Dr. Polly Roberts
  • Speakers Series – Jeanne Pinto
  • Volunteers – Eszter Sapi
  • Web Site – Jim Curtis
Jessica Jeannetta

Elizabeth Kadow

Administrative Assistant
Kathy Kadow

Park Attendants

  • Kyle Brown
  • Mia Dubin
Part Time Naturalists

  • Audrey Azzam
  • Andrea Barnett
  • Rob Bonfante
  • Samantha Cassell
  • Lizzie Crespi
  • Taylor Deese
  • Michael Eversmier
  • Mary Genovese
  • Deanna Hyman
  • Alex Pellegrini
  • Jeff Schmaley
  • Arianna Sindelar
  • Carly Sniffen
  • Pam Ward
  • Alex Waugh

Join our team!

Now accepting applications for Part Time Naturalists and Park Attendants.

TrailBlazer Newsletter

The Council publishes a triennial newsletter, the TrailBlazer. Members have the option of receiving this newsletter via an email link or via U.S. Mail. The newsletter includes articles on wildlife and nature, important environmental updates and calendar listings on all Oregon Ridge Nature Center events, programs, meetings and other activities.

The Oregon Ridge Scholarship Program

Each year the ORNC Council awards scholarships to college-bound, high school seniors from Baltimore County and City. Recipients should show a high level of commitment to the health of the environment and plan to continue their studies in environmental science and nature education. 

Community Garden

The Community Garden at Oregon Ridge consists of 86 10x 10plots that are rented for a season that runs from early March through mid-November. Gardeners are expected to work their plots weekly and must give 4 hours of service (over the course of the season) on projects that benefit the garden as a whole. This service is performed at Community Garden Work Days which are scheduled twice a month.

Deer Fencing along with shared garden tools and wheelbarrows are provided. Other features include a water hydrant and hose system, a parking pad specifically for Community Gardeners and compost bins.

There is always a waitlist for plots in the garden. Gardeners joining the waitlist after the start of the season are usually assigned a plot within one year, those willing to pick-up a plot mid-season are usually assigned a plot much sooner.  

If you would like to be on the waitlist for the Community Garden at Oregon Ridge Nature Center please email us at info@OregonRidgeNatureCenter.org with your name and phone number along with any questions you may have.