Christine Nye joined the aquarium in 1998 as the horticultural manager, transforming the acreage around the aquarium into an ecofriendly, sustainable landscape thriving with native plants, an organic lawn, wildlife-friendly habitats and demonstration gardens that teach guests how to live more sustainably within their own home landscapes.
Her career began working inside the aquarium on exhibit spaces so it was a natural transition to take the organic practices she used around the animals to the care of the grounds. Nye has transformed the Shedd gardens by using compost, instead of chemical laden fertilizers, to enrich the soil and develop the land around the aquarium. Over the last several years, Nye has embraced her role as an ecofriendly educator: Every summer, she works with a dozen teens to teach sustainable landscaping practices and encourage a love of local plants and habitats. She has also begun working with the local landscape industry to encourage the use of sustainable methods throughout the region. Most recently, Nye has led the removal of 18,000 square feet of lawn along Lake Michigan to replace it with a diverse mix of native plants and shrubs that are more efficient and sustainable to maintain, as well as crucial to attracting birds and wildlife.
Nye’s ecofriendly practices extend beyond the borders of Shedd through partnerships with several local charities. Since 2011, Shedd has donated 360 pounds of food from its organic gardens to the Pacific Garden Mission located in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood.