• Sun Foundation Sun Foundation


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Mission Statement

The Sun Foundation, founded in 1973 by artists and educators Bob & Joan Ericksen, is an arts and science educational organization located in rural Washburn, Illinois.

Our mission is to strengthen and advance the arts and environmental sciences in both rural and urban communities by providing quality and innovative programs, services, publications, research, regranting financial support, advocacy, and cooperative efforts for under served groups, schools, Illinois artists, and local arts organizations, and the general public.

The Sun Foundation is organized exclusively for education, scientific, and charitable purposes. We strive to advance and develop integrative and interdisciplinary studies between artists and scientists, encouraging humankind to live in harmony with nature.

The Sun Foundation is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. Donations made to the Sun Foundation are tax-deductible


The Sun Foundation is a volunteer based organization and we rely on our generous community members to share their time and talents to our program's possble. Consider volunteering so that the Sun Foundation's bright ideas for children and education can continue to shine!

The Sun Foundation currently offers the following programs:

  • Art & Science in the Woods (ASIW) summer camp: A week long day camp giving over 450 students ages 6-18 the opportunity to learn hands-on with professional artists & scientists in nature's classroom. Classes are taught on a rural 800-acre property consisting of a fresh water marsh, oak hickory forest, prairies, ponds, wetlands, streams, and fossil beds. The ASIW program began in 1974 and has continued to provide creative inspiration ever since.

  • Community Arts Access (CAA) regranting program: Through a matching grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, along with community contributions, funds are regranted to area schools, libraries, artists, and art organizations for community & public art programs. The CAA program began in 1990 and has provided over $423,000 to community arts programs.

  • Clean Water Celebration (CWC) environmental classroom: A free 2 day event attended by 3,000 middle & high school students each year along with the general public. Participants spend a day learning how to conserve, protect, and restore our precious water resource through interactive exhibits, classrooms, keynote presentations, and performances. The CWC program began in 1993 and continues to encourage students to think critically and creatively about adequate and safe water supplies.

  • Environmental Field Trips : Trips for school and community organizations offering interdisciplinary curriculum for all grade levels. This program emphasizes nature study as an activity that draws from and enhances other disciplines such as the arts, social studies, and sciences. School groups have been able to visit the Sun Foundation for field trips since 1974.

  • Field Science Program: Workshops and expeditions are offered to individuals, families, and groups. This program began in 1974 and has included a variety of classes, recently including Bee Keeping and Bio-Humic Organic Farming. Currently the field science program consists of:

    • Fossil & Rock Expedition : Families and individuals explore the fossil rich creek beds located at the Sun Foundation center. Adults & children alike join Bradley University Geology Professor Dr. Merrill Foster (PhD, Harvard University) for an exciting day of searching and learning about these million year old artifacts.

    • Reptile & Amphibian Expedition : Families and individuals spend the day with Peoria Zoo Herpetologist Doug Holmes, learning about reptiles and amphibians native to the area while finding these interesting creatures in their natural habitats at the Sun Foundation center.

  • Run for the Sun benefit race: A 4 mile competitive trail run and 1 mile non-competitive fun run to benefit Sun Foundation programs. Participants run through trails and finish at the Sun Foundation center. All proceeds benefit Sun Foundation children's programs. This fundraising event is fairly new and began in 2014.

  • Winter Warming (WW) wine tasting fundraiser: An evening of delicious wine, brew, and food tasting. Guests socialize while enjoying a vast silent auction, guest artist exhibit & sales, and other fun activities. All proceeds benefit Sun Foundation children's programs. This program began in 2006 and is a major fundraising source for the Sun Foundation.

A brief history of the Sun Foundation:

During the late 1960's, many segments of our community did not have access to the arts due to economics, geographical location, or lack of exposure. Artists had limited access to schools, community centers, other artists, and necessary resources. The arts were not acknowledged as part of elementary or secondary curriculm and many schools did not have an arts curriculum or art teachers.

It became clear that there was a need for an organization structured to foster new talents and audiences for the arts, while providing opportunities to integrate the arts into other disciplines. There was also a need to increase cooperation between artists, arts groups, businesses, schools, and the community to encourage joint efforts and shared resources.

Thus, the Sun Foundation was born. Since 1973, the Sun Foundation has provided a variety of unique programs that have nourished new talents for the arts and environmental sciences and have fostered three generations of young stewards for planet Earth. The Sun Foundation's programs have touched the lives of over 5.5 million people and continue to provide creative and cooperative learning opportunities to the community.

The Sun Foundation center is open to the public for scheduled programs and events only.


Would you recommend Sun Foundation?