Nearly 75 years ago, one young man pursued a big dream. The dream of having a school on a farm; a place where animals aren’t just friends, they are teachers. After seven and a half decades and many milestones, Green Chimneys is thriving as a renowned therapeutic education and treatment facility for children with special needs.

The story of Green Chimneys is a long and wonderful adventure starting on October 27, 1947 with the Ross family’s purchase of a 75-acre dairy farm. At just 19 years old, inspired by childhood boarding school experiences and a genuine devotion to animals, Samuel B. “Rollo” Ross, Jr. established an environment where children and animals could live together in a farm setting.

Green Chimneys opened its doors in June 1948 with 11 children ages 3-6. Led by a small staff providing academics, recreation, and a loving environment, the school offered the children the unique experience of interacting with and caring for the animals that also lived there.

The marriage of Sam Ross and Myra Mattes in 1954 cemented a lifelong partnership that played an important role in the growth of Green Chimneys. They both saw from the very beginning the potential to serve children and families in many different ways. The couple became pioneers in the practice of animal-assisted activities as part of a child’s education and emotional well-being. As years went on, the integration of animals and nature grew into a core component of Green Chimneys’ clinical approach, adding a dynamic and beneficial element to its special education and therapeutic treatment programs for children facing social, emotional and behavioral challenges.

Today, Green Chimneys is a premier nonprofit education and human services agency serving thousands of youth and families each year. As a leader in animal-assisted and nature-based practices, Green Chimneys has achieved global recognition in education and advocacy for children with a unique focus on the human-animal connection. This interconnection of human well-being, animal welfare, and environmental stewardship is ingrained in Green Chimneys’ founding principles, and alive in the community of dedicated professionals who work at Green Chimneys, among supporters and partners across the globe, and most importantly, in the children and families we have had the honor to serve.

In 2022, we remain inspired by the legacy of our founders and the magnificent organization they built, and we invite you to join in the celebration of Green Chimneys’ 75th year. We enter this year filled with pride, and pause for reflection, as we continue our mission in helping young people to maximize their full potential by providing residential, educational, clinical and recreational services, in a safe and supportive environment that nurtures connections with their families, the community, animals and nature.

Celebrate with us!

Help sustain Green Chimneys for the next 75 years and ensure the continuance of therapeutic education and nature-based programs for children with special needs.

My earliest memories are of animals.

Dr. Samuel B. Ross Jr.

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With roots deep in nature-based practices, Green Chimneys has grown to serve thousands of families through education, clinical, and recreational programs. The expanse and longevity of our services also speaks to exceptional leadership, partnerships, and support we have received along the way. We are eternally grateful to our founders, Rollo and Myra Ross, for their lifelong commitment to helping children and animals. And while it’s impossible to list everyone here, we are truly appreciative of the individuals and organizations who share a commitment to therapeutic education and animal-assisted services. Thank you for being a part of Green Chimneys’ past, present, and future!

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Samuel B. Ross, Jr. & Myra Mattes Ross

Founders of Green Chimneys

Samuel B. Ross, Jr. & Myra Mattes Ross

Founders of Green Chimneys

From the time he was a young child Samuel “Rollo” Ross, Jr. found comfort in being with animals. Driven by his experience, this 19-year-old young man was motivated to open a school on a farm with help from his parents. Rollo’s marriage to Myra Mattes several years later cemented a lifelong partnership, and the young couple began their life’s work together while raising three children. For more than 70 years, they successfully transformed the organization from an 11 student school into a multifaceted non-profit organization dedicated to helping young people meet their full potential. Additionally, the couple shared their practical learning and insights with professionals from around the world who were dedicated to helping children and who believed in the healing power of nature-based and animal-assisted therapy. Myra and Rollo are no longer with us, but their passion and commitment remain the cornerstone of our culture to this day.

Adele & Barney Ross

Adele & Barney Ross

Green Chimneys would not exist without the support and love of Dr. Ross’s father, Samuel Bernard “Barney” Ross, MD, and his wife Adele. Barney Ross was a successful physician in New York City who supported his 19-year-old son’s dream of opening a school on a farm and in 1947 bought a 75-acre dairy farm for him to start his dream. As Rollo said, “he would spend much more than that original purchase amount!” Barney’s support was much more than just financial. He eventually closed his NYC practice, moved to campus and married Adele “Mommy Mac” MacDonald. While Rollo finished his last semester of collage and his father attended his medical practice, Adele was living and working at Green Chimneys first to get the school ready to open, then as the School Nurse, House Mother and manager of most of the daily operations. Both Barney and Adele worked tirelessly alongside their son and his growing family to provide not only a place to educate children but to create a school community where everyone felt like family.

Ben & Julia Mattes

Grandpa Mattes

Ben & Julia Mattes

Grandpa Mattes

Running Green Chimneys was truly a family affair since the beginning and founder Myra Ross’s parents were no exception. Once Samuel Ross and Myra were married, Myra’s parents Julia and Ben Mattes would spend their weekends at Green Chimneys helping around campus. During the week, Julia was a bookkeeper, and Ben was a hatter in nearby Danbury, Connecticut, where the couple also lived. Upon retirement, Ben, fondly known as “Grandpa Mattes” by the children, joined Green Chimneys night staff to care for the resident children. He also loved to garden and spent hours caring for his flowers and vegetable garden, taking particular pride in his tomatoes. After the death of his wife Julia in 1969, Ben moved on campus to live with Myra, Rollo, and his grandchildren. We honor Ben and Julia Mattes for keeping the Green Chimneys campus blooming for years, caring for the children, and helping in almost every way.

The Ross Family

The Ross Family

Donald, Lisa, and David Ross

The legacy of Green Chimneys starts as a family story starting with Dr. Sam “Rollo” Ross’s father, “Barney” Ross purchasing a 75-acre dairy farm for his son to build a school, and continued as family members pitched in to help build a successful place for children to learn and grow. Green Chimneys continues to be a family affair with Rollo and Myra’s children playing key roles in its success. Unfortunately, David Ross, Myra and Rollo’s eldest son passed away in 1986. As Vice President of Green Chimneys Board of Directors, their son Donald Ross is active in the governance and fund development efforts involving the entire organization. Their daughter Lisa Ross is the Vice President of the Board of the Friends of Green Chimneys, which supports the efforts of the organization. Both Ross children bring the life experience of having grown up on campus and learning from their parents to help advocate for the children and families of Green Chimneys and help to continue the legacy of their parents.

Joe & Mary Whalen

Joe & Mary Whalen

Joseph Whalen is a key part of Green Chimneys’ legacy, serving the organization for 46 years until his retirement in 2018. Starting as a teacher in 1972 and becoming a school principal in 1977, Joe held several management roles until becoming Executive Director in 1996. Under Joe’s leadership, Green Chimneys thrived. He oversaw a major expansion on our Brewster campus, including a new school building, a 24-hour health center, a new barn, and state-of-the-art housing for residential students, as well as the acquisition of the Clearpool campus which further expanded education and recreation opportunities for our students. Joe always made time for students, whether it was planting trees on campus or rewarding a child’s growth with one-on-one fishing. In his retirement, Joe remains a steadfast volunteer and supporter of Green Chimneys and is a member of the board of the Friends of Green Chimneys. Joe’s wife of over 40 years, Mary, was also a teacher and was a true partner in his dedication to the children under his care. Mary was a devoted Green Chimneys volunteer, working on numerous galas, fundraisers, and events and made many behind-the-scenes contributions. Sadly, Mary passed away in 2021, but her commitment to Green Chimneys is not forgotten. The Whalens will always be a significant part of our history, and we are very grateful.

Henry J. & Erna D. Leir

The Leir Foundation

Henry J. & Erna D. Leir

The Leir Foundation

For more than two decades, The Leir Foundation, established by Henry J. and Erna D. Leir, has been instrumental in advancing the legacy of our founders, Samuel and Myra Ross. Henry J. Leir, born in Germany in 1900 was a successful industrialist, who, with his wife Erna, escaped the Nazi regime by moving to Luxembourg and then to the US in 1938. The Leirs devoted their time and efforts to philanthropy, supporting services for children and the disadvantaged, among many other causes. Thanks to the Foundation’s generosity, Green Chimneys offers The Henry J. and Erna D. Leir Global Intern Program, which provides a unique, hands-on experience for individuals interested in learning about human-animal interaction and how it can benefit children with special needs. Each year, interns from throughout the US and the world engage our students in animal-assisted therapeutic activities; many interns go on to pursue careers as therapists, veterinarians, and researchers. We are very grateful to the Leir Foundation for its steadfast commitment to Green Chimneys and for enabling us to provide this innovative program.

Newman’s Own Foundation

Newman’s Own Foundation

When Paul Newman was starting his first Hole in the Wall Camp for children more than three decades ago, Dr. Ross’s son David encouraged Rollo to give Newman a call. David felt that with Rollo’s 40 years of experience running a residential school for kids he could be of some help. So Rollo called Newman’s office and left a message. To his surprise, Paul Newman called back. They got together and headed up to tour the grounds for the new camp and while there Dr. Ross offered Paul some sage advice: “You need more bathrooms placed closer to the children”. Overtime, the two men formed a friendship that developed in to a strong partnership between Green Chimneys and Newman’s Own. Newman’s Own Foundation’s dedication to children was a natural fit for Green Chimneys mission of helping children with special needs.  The Foundation has been a generous and loyal supporter of our students, our school, and the nature-based philosophy underlying it.  Green Chimneys is eternally grateful to Newman’s Own Foundation for their partnership and dedication not only to Green Chimneys, but to the children and families it continues to touch every year.

The Engelstad Foundation

The Engelstad Foundation

Through their grants program, the Engelstad Foundation began helping Green Chimneys to provide vital academic and therapeutic programs in 2020 at a time when our students and families needed us most. Earlier that year, Green Chimneys welcomed Kris Engelstad McGarry and her family for a visit to our campus. A trustee of The Engelstad Foundation based in Las Vegas, Kris understands the impact of philanthropy on local and national issues. Created in 2002 by Kris’ parents, Ralph and Betty Engelstad, The Engelstad Foundation is committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities and creating opportunities for at-risk individuals. The Foundation’s understanding of the issues faced by children with mental health challenges and commitment to supporting innovative nature-based therapies is providing an extraordinary partnership with Green Chimneys. We are truly grateful to The Engelstad Foundation for their commitment to the success of our children and the support of their families.

The Donnelley Family

The Donnelley Family

For nearly 50 years, the Donnelley family has been a significant partner in the success of Green Chimneys. It all began on a flight to Ohio, where Sam Ross and Strachan Donnelley were attending a meeting as board members at the Union Institute. As Dr. Ross talked about Green Chimneys, Strachan said, “I think my wife Vivian would be very interested in this.” As a mother of five with a deep interest in education and an instinctive awareness of the possibilities inherent in bonds between children and animals, Vivian was indeed interested. She joined the board of directors—later serving as board chair—and cooked for the first-ever Green Chimneys Gala in New York City. The Donnelley Family spent time on the campus and on the farm where the kids met a pig named after their father. Although Strachan and Vivian have both passed, their daughters have remained generous supporters. We are incredibly grateful to the Donnelley family for their steadfast friendship and commitment.

The Dyson Foundation

The Dyson Foundation

Over the past decade, the Dyson Foundation has been the most dedicated and generous supporter of Green Chimneys’ Community Outreach Center which provides critical support for at-risk youth and families throughout Putnam County through free after school and weekend activities, tutoring, and counseling services. Founded in 1957, the Dyson Foundation aims to improve and enhance the quality of life for residents of the Mid-Hudson Valley region, with a focus on the most vulnerable or economically disadvantaged populations. The Dyson Foundation’s support has been essential to allowing us to keep the Outreach Center open throughout the pandemic, providing a full range of activities remotely and in-person, and delivering food and other needed supplies to local youth and families throughout the community. As the only nonprofit provider of support services exclusively for youth in Putnam County, Green Chimneys is a vital resource for hundreds of young people and their families each year. We are incredibly grateful for the partnership of the Dyson Foundation, which allows us to help the most vulnerable members of our community.

Barbara Crapa & Anne Marie Wittlin

Barbara Crapa & Anne Marie Wittlin

As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, we recognize two long-term employees who, together, have dedicated more than a century of service to Green Chimneys. In 1969, Anne Marie Wittlin (right) joined Green Chimneys for her first position in Housekeeping. Over the course of five decades, she served in many functions and departments ranging from supporting our founders, Myra and Sam Ross, in Administration and Admissions to a role as Clinical Secretary. Today Anne Marie is a School Administrative Assistant on our Brewster campus. In 1973, Barbara Crapa joined the Green Chimneys team as a Receptionist. In her years since, Barbara has held various positions, including payroll clerk and bookkeeper until moving over to the Human Resources department in 1998, where she continues to work as a Human Resources Associate. In addition to their work responsibilities, Anne Marie and Barbara are always willing to lend a helping hand, volunteering for numerous activities and providing invaluable support to dozens of special events, including our Birds of Prey Day, Annual Golf Classic, and Annual Gala. As our longest-term employees, Anne Marie and Barbara have been instrumental in helping Green Chimneys achieve its 75-year milestone. We thank them for their years of commitment!

The Otten Family

The Otten Family

Judge Louis Otten

The Otten family has been intertwined with Green Chimneys from nearly its beginnings. Judge Louis Otten purchased a summer home in Brewster the same year Rollo’s father purchased the farm in 1947. Judge Otten became acquainted with Sam Ross’s father and was a supporter for many years.  As a judge in the New York Family Court in the 1970s, Otten often referred children needing services to Green Chimneys and later became a strong advocate of Green Chimneys nature-based approach to therapy and education. Louis’ son, Michael became involved as a volunteer in 1977 and later became the second President of the Green Chimneys board of directors. Louis’ wife Marjorie was a member of the board in the late 1970s and his daughter Lois Otten Robbins also served on the board in the 1980s. Michael, who remains on the board today, has encouraged his children in volunteer efforts throughout the years and his daughter Sylvie currently serves on the board. Even Louis’ great-grandson has been involved with Green Chimneys as a volunteer and employee.  

Aston Gill

Aston Gill

For nearly 18 years Aston Gill served as Director of Child Care and Residential Treatment services for Green Chimneys. He retired in 2018. As Director, Aston was responsible for coordinating and managing the activities, strategic development, and policy/compliance procedures within the entire residential treatment program. He had a tremendous impact on thousands of children and youth in our community who received residential treatment and the many human services professionals who he trained and inspired by his knowledge and dedication. Aston was well respected by his peers, staff, and most importantly, the children in his care. In fact, one of the most popular rewards children chose when they had reached certain milestones wasn’t candy or toys or video games, it was “Pizza with Mr. Gill.” Children loved having one-on-one time with Mr. Gill; he made them feel successful and valued and there is no greater reward for a child. Green Chimneys owes much of its success to the programs, staffing, and caring atmosphere that Aston Gill created and he is a vital part of our 75-year legacy.

Bella Meyer

Bella Meyer

Over 50 years ago, a farm nearby Green Chimneys was home to Bella Meyer, a young widow, and her four children. The Meyer family formed a close bond with Green Chimneys founders Sam and Myra Ross and their family. Bella served as Rollo’s office assistant for 40 years, two of her sons attended school here, and her daughter Bonnie worked on campus as well. Green Chimneys later purchased Bella’s farm and named it Boni-Bel in honor of mother and daughter. Boni-Bel Farm and Country Store has since become the foundation of Green Chimneys’ vocational educational program and continues to provide vital programming for our students and fresh, organic produce and goodies for our community. Bella passed away in 2018 at the age of 102, but her dedication has made her an integral part of Green Chimneys’ history. On her 100th birthday, Dr. Ross said, “We are so very grateful to Bella. Her lifetime commitment to Green Chimneys is outstanding, as is her bond with our family.”

Windsong Trust

Windsong Trust

The Windsong Trust, headquartered in California, was formed in 2004 to provide educational program support to schools and youth-serving organizations throughout the U.S. A chance meeting on an airplane between Green Chimneys’ founder Samuel Ross and one of the Windsong trustees, has resulted in a decade-long partnership. Since 2012 Windsong Trust has provided very generous support for Green Chimneys’ educational programs for special needs youth—including our vocational education program, which helps prepare our students to lead self-sufficient, productive adult lives through work-based learning and life skills training. We are very grateful for Windsong Trust’s commitment to improving the lives of young people through education. Thanks to their support, our special needs students continue to thrive and grow.

Angelo Matra

Angelo Matra

In 1981 Angelo Matra joined Green Chimneys as Chief Financial Officer and was promoted to Associate Executive Director in 2007. Over his 37 years with the organization, Angelo played a major role in the success of our Business Office, which provides financial structure and support for the entire agency. As Chair of the golf committee, Angelo has been a key contributor to the successful performance of the annual Samuel B. Ross Green Chimneys Golf Classic, a leading source of fundraising on the Green Chimneys calendar of events. Prior to his retirement in 2018, Angelo was honored by former Executive Director Joseph A. Whalen for his many years of service to our mission. Today, Angelo continues to be invested in our success, volunteering as Co-chair of the Golf Committee and as President of the Friends of Green Chimneys Board of Directors. Angelo’s dedication and sage guidance provided the foundation of Green Chimneys’ ongoing legacy.

Paul Kupchok

Paul Kupchok

In 1987, Paul’s teaching experience and passion for animals brought him to Green Chimneys. For nearly 30 years, he directed the Sam and Myra Ross Farm & Wildlife Center on our Brewster campus. During his tenure, Paul developed a noted wildlife rescue and rehabilitation program, which was eventually named in his honor. Today, the thriving Paul C. Kupchok Wildlife Center is home to more than 50 permanently disabled birds of prey and provides Green Chimneys students and the public the opportunity to learn about these magnificent animals. Paul also created Birds of Prey Day in 1992, a Green Chimneys event that has become one of the largest local festivals attracting 3,000 people annually. Thanks to Paul’s expertise and talents, hundreds of wildlife have been successfully rehabilitated and released or rehomed, and thousands of our students and visitors have developed tremendous respect for animals, nature, and the environment.

Tom Lowell

Tom Lowell

Tom Lowell has been a friend to Green Chimneys School for over four decades starting when he formed a close friendship at school with Don Ross, son of Rollo and Myra Ross. While Tom has been a committed supporter of Green Chimneys for many years, in 2012 Tom raised the stakes and approached Rollo with the idea of sponsoring his own golf outing to benefit Green Chimneys. After several years of running his tremendously successful personal golf event, Tom combined his tournament with Green Chimneys golf event and today is the Co-Chair of the Samuel B. Ross. Jr. Green Chimneys Golf Classic. Through Tom’s generous actions and ongoing commitment, his impact on the school has been tremendous and we remain so grateful for his thoughtful and generous friendship.

Morgan Stanley Foundation

Morgan Stanley Foundation

For two decades, the Morgan Stanley Foundation has been a steadfast supporter of Green Chimneys and an outstanding model of corporate citizenship. Committed to finding solutions to the mental health care challenges facing children and young adults, the Morgan Stanley Foundation has supported Green Chimneys through generous annual funding of our educational and therapeutic programs and the dedicated volunteer efforts of its employees. Each June, as part of the firm’s Global Volunteer Month, Morgan Stanley employees arrive on our campus, rolling up their sleeves and working enthusiastically on tasks throughout our 250-acre farm — from painting fences to weeding to spreading mulch at our ropes course. Over 200 volunteers donate more than 1,200 hours of their time each year. In 2016 we were honored to be part of Morgan Stanley’s “Lights on Broadway,” in which images of Green Chimneys students and animals were featured on the digital billboards outside of the company’s headquarters in Times Square. By helping us shine a light on the issue of children’s mental health, Morgan Stanley has been a true partner and friend to Green Chimneys.

Al Marmor

Al Marmor

Al Marmor has been a volunteer at the Farm & Wildlife Center since 1998 where he has been a carpenter, horticulturist, animal caretaker, snow remover, painter, and has attended to chores large and small in all seasons and in all kinds of weather. Although his work contribution is evidence of his commitment to the Green Chimneys mission, it is Al’s large heart and sense of humor that have endeared him to generations of students and staff. In his 20+ years at Green Chimneys, Al has been a donor, an all-around supporter, a friend of our founder Dr. Samuel Ross and a mentor to many.

The Barbara Apisson Testamentary Trust

The Barbara Apisson Testamentary Trust

Green Chimneys Summer Camp programs enable children to socialize and connect with nature, while providing their families with much-needed child care during the summer months. The Barbara Apisson Testamentary Trust is one of the generous funding partners who allow us to offer camp scholarships to local families with limited financial means. Since 2018, their support has enabled us to award camp scholarships to 100 children. We are especially grateful for their support over the past two years, as the pandemic has made it difficult for many families to afford camp opportunities for their children. The generosity and flexibility of the Trust enabled us to provide children with outdoor programming during the school year while schools remained remote and children needed outlets for safe socialization. The Trust is named for the late Barbara Apisson, who immigrated to the US from Armenia in 1915 to escape the Armenian Genocide, and held a strong belief in the healing qualities of nature and a life-long love of animals. Following her death in 1996, her family established the Trust to ensure that children of all means could experience a summer of fun and learning in nature. We are honored and grateful to help realize Ms. Apisson’s legacy.

EQUUS Foundation

EQUUS Foundation

The EQUUS Foundation was founded by Lynn Coakley in 2002 to safeguard the comfort and dignity of America’s horses throughout their lives, and share their ability to empower, teach, and heal with as many people as possible. Since 2009 EQUUS has been a generous supporter of Green Chimneys’ equine-assisted programming, helping us provide veterinary care, equipment, and supplies for our herd. Lynn was inspired by our founder, Samuel Ross: “I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Ross for the first time in 2001 when I was Chairman of the Fairfield County Hunt Club June Show and Green Chimneys was recommended to be a charitable beneficiary of the show. Visiting Green Chimneys and seeing Dr. Ross’s pioneering accomplishments in animal-assisted therapy was truly inspirational. It was that visit that inspired me to establish the EQUUS Foundation to ensure that Green Chimneys, and other outstanding equine charities, could be supported on an ongoing basis.” We are grateful for the steadfast support of the EQUUS Foundation and for sharing our commitment to ensuring that horses are safe, protected, and treated with dignity.

Plan ahead to attend one or more of these in-person events.

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Green Chimneys Gala

May 19, 2022

Green Chimneys Gala

May 19, 2022

Each year the Green Chimneys Gala raises funds for innovative education and animal-assisted therapy programs for children with special needs as well as for the care of our animal partners. Join us as we honor the memory of our founders, Myra and Sam “Rollo” Ross. Celebrate all of the partners in Green Chimneys’ success—past, present, and future! Event info

Alumni Day

July 17, 2022

Alumni Day

July 17, 2022

Get ready to reconnect with old friends—and make new ones—at an event dedicated to former Green Chimneys students and staff. We could not have reached the 75-year milestone without you, our alumni! This year’s Alumni Day will be a true reunion as we welcome former staff to join in the celebration, too. Event info

Camel Workshop

August 7-9, 2022

Camel Workshop

August 7-9, 2022

Exclusively for those currently working with camels, this workshop is hosted by The Sam and Myra Ross Institute at Green Chimneys. The Institute was established to deepen the legacy, vision, and impact of its animal and nature-based programs by demonstrating how purposeful contact with animals and the outdoors can enhance formal therapies and traditional education. During this workshop, professionals will enhance existing skills and explore new ways of integrating human interactions into their work with camels. Event info

Golf Classic

August 8, 2022

Golf Classic

August 8, 2022

Each year, the Samuel B. Ross Green Chimneys Golf Classic raises nearly $125,000 from our generous sponsors and golfers. Those funds are directed to Green Chimneys’ innovative education and animal-assisted therapy for children with special needs and support the care of our animals, too. Hit the green for a great cause! Event info

Conquer the Forest Trail Run

November 20, 2022

Conquer the Forest Trail Run

November 20, 2022

The 6th Annual Conquer the Forest Trail Run is a fun and challenging 5k that raises funds for Green Chimneys’ therapeutic education and nature-based programs. Meet us at the starting line

As a nonprofit, Green Chimneys relies on the generosity of others to sustain critical therapeutic education and nature-based programs as well as clinical services for children with special needs.

Make a difference in the lives of children and animals.

Our History

Original Green Chimneys property is purchased by the Ross family.

1947

Green Chimneys Farm for Little Folk opens with eleven students aged 3-6 years old. Young Samuel Ross leads a small staff to provide academics, recreation, and a loving environment for the children, with the unique experience of interacting with and caring for animals.

1948

Following numerous requests by parents wanting to send a younger sibling, or asking if their child could stay for just one more year, the school expands to include children aged 2-9.

1952

Samuel Ross marries Myra Mattes, a teacher from Danbury, CT, on the grounds of Green Chimneys, building on the strong educational foundation and family atmosphere of the school.

1954

It becomes apparent that the children attending Green Chimneys are in need of a year-round program. Dormitories and a middle school are added to the campus and a summer camp program eliminated to make room for New York State’s first 12-month nonprofit school program.

1966

The farm and riding program opens to the community-at-large as Green Chimneys Farm Center offers public programs and opportunities for students in residence to interact with the outside community.

1971

Hillside Outdoor Education Center is established for year-round adventure programs and summer camp.

1972

Green Chimneys becomes a social services agency and 853 special education school increasing resources for, and public access to, its residential treatment services, and enabling all children to attend tuition-free.

1974

Green Chimneys acquires 40 acres of farm land across from the main campus and creates Boni-Bel Organic Farm.

1980

Nature’s Nursery pre-school opens as a full-day year-round program for 3-5 year olds.

1981

Establishment of The Henry J. and Erna D. Leir Global Internship Program, offering a unique immersion experience for individuals interested in exploring the human-animal bond and nature-based activities to benefit children with special needs.

1982

Gramercy Residence opens in Manhattan as a group residence to prepare troubled youth for independent living. Program later transitions to serving LGBTQ youth.

1984

Farm Center expands with the addition of the wildlife rescue and rehabilitation program.

1988

The Country Store opens at Boni-Bel Farm serving the community with a local farm market and gift shop, and as a vocational program for Green Chimneys students.

1993

Therapeutic Day Program opens, providing a special education day school option for students from local districts.

1995

After serving in a number of agency management roles, including School Principal, Joseph A. Whalen is named Executive Director. Founder Dr. Samuel Ross becomes Managing Director of The Friends of Green Chimneys, overseeing all fund development activities.

1996

Green Chimneys acquires Clearpool, a 100-year-old outdoor education and recreational facility in Carmel, New York and assumes its dynamic environmental/nature program and summer camp.

2008

In recognition of long-standing ties and strong support from Paul Newman’s namesake company and charitable foundation, Green Chimneys names its school complex The Newman’s Own Education Center.

2010

Following a needs assessment across 61 school districts, Green Chimneys School is approved for 32 middle school seats at its Clearpool Campus, expanding its therapeutic program to serve even more students in need of special education.

2012

Two most notable additions to the Farm & Wildlife Center arrive a la caravan all the way from California. Bactrian camels Sage and Phoenix are ceremoniously gifted to Green Chimneys by Sacred Camel Gardens, and quickly become beloved members of the farm.

2012

Green Chimneys marks 65 years with the launch of The Sam and Myra Ross Institute, which serves to deepen the legacy, vision and impact of its animal and nature-based programs by demonstrating how purposeful contact with animals and the outdoors can enhance formal therapies and traditional education, and sharing knowledge to bring continued growth and leadership to the field.

2012

Clearpool Model Forest initiates first projects demonstrating best practices in forest management and water conservation, along with educational programming for the public.

2013

Dr. Samuel Ross is presented with the prestigious Andrew Goodman Hidden Heroes Award, recognizing his lifetime humanitarian efforts.

2013

Green Chimneys’ 20-year-old humane education event is refocused and relaunched as the Human-Animal Interaction Conference, highlighting therapeutic practices and research in the integration of animals into treatment.

2013

Three-week-old baby emu arrives and becomes Green Chimneys’ first farm resident to be named by the public via social media voting campaign.

2014

Dog Interaction Program is introduced to provide students opportunities to build important skills as they participate in the training and socialization of shelter dogs, helping to ready them for adoption.

2014

The Institute conducts its first formal research study to test the benefits of animal-assisted interventions by integrating dogs into social skills training for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

2014

Green Chimneys awarded $750K from NYS Empire State Development Corporation to assist expansion of the school on the Brewster campus and update Nature’s Nursery.

2015

Animal Interaction Assessment clinical tool is developed by Green Chimneys and made public for practitioners to guide treatment decisions and therapeutic approaches that involve animal-assisted activities.

2015

Summer Camp program recognized by American Camping Association with the Eleanor P. Eells Award for Program Excellence.

2016

Joe Whalen receives Lifetime Achievement Award from his alma mater, Mercy College.

2016

Clearpool Model Forest opens newly mapped trails and points of interest for public access.

2016

Dr. Edward Placke named successor to long-time Executive Director Joe Whalen. Placke to assume leadership in Spring 2017.

2016

Green Chimneys makes its Broadway debut as a featured nonprofit on the Times Square billboard operated by finance giant Morgan Stanley, as part of a multi-media campaign highlighting causes supported by the corporation.

2016

Green Chimneys and University of Denver’s Institute for Human-Animal Connection initiate joint research to study the impact of Green Chimneys’ unique farm programs on developmental health and education outcomes for its students.

2016

Nature’s Nursery awarded Putnam County Day Care Center of the Year by The Child Care Council of Dutchess and Putnam.

2016

Dr. Edward Placke takes the helm as Executive Director with a symbolic ‘passing of the reins’ celebration attended by the entire Green Chimneys community.

2017

Green Chimneys and County officials cut the ribbon on Ross Hall, a new academic building with state-of-the-art classrooms for the school’s elementary grades.

2017

Over 100 runners turn out for the very first “Conquer the Forest” trail run to challenge themselves through the forests and fields of our scenic Clearpool campus.

2017

Green Chimneys celebrates 70 years at its annual gala, with the Ross family in attendance.

2017

Green Chimneys Founder Dr. Samuel B. Ross, Jr. dies peacefully at the age of 89, surrounded by his family.

2018

Community-Based Services opens Putnam County’s only Transitional Living Program for 16-21 year olds who are, or at risk of becoming, homeless. The shared residence provides a safe, stable environment, life skills development, and social supports to prepare young adults for healthy, independent living.

2018

Green Chimneys Founder Myra Ross dies peacefully, among family, at the age of 88.

2019

It’s a banner year for media coverage as Green Chimneys is featured in The New York Times and broadcasted nationally on NBC News and across the New York region on Fox5 NY News.

2019

Wildlife staff become TV stars when the Bronx Zoo brings an injured turkey vulture and a crew from Animal Planet series “The Zoo” to share the story of the bird’s rehabilitation and successful release back into the wild.

2019

Publication of findings from phase one of the joint Green Chimneys-Denver nature-based research, including a compendium of full program documentation and an article in The Journal of Youth Development.

2019

Following the rescue and extended care of a Bald eagle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially designates Green Chimneys as the permanent home for the unreleasable bird – a rare honor for a wildlife center!

2019

Green Chimneys is the first special education school in New York State to resume in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020

With increased leisure time spent outdoors during the pandemic and more people observing and caring about wildlife, Green Chimneys rescues a remarkable 180 birds spanning 37 different species.

2020

Green Chimneys never ceases operation as 484 staff continue to serve 254 students, and 1000 community youth and their families.

2020

A third camel officially makes a herd! Green Chimneys welcomes Bunni, a 9-year-old dromedary from Texas.

2021

Three months after a joint rescue effort by good Samaritans, park rangers, and DEC officials, a rehabilitated Bald eagle is majestically released back into the wild at Clearpool.

2021

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