Huron County Nature Center Strives to Improve Services

Recently, the Huron County Nature Center (HCNC) hosted representatives of the Association of Nature Center Administrators (ANCA) for an ANCA “Peer Consult.” The Peer Consult involved an intensive two-day visit to the Nature Center by experienced nature center professionals. ANCA Peer Consults provide assistance on a wide range of issues – just about anything involved with the planning, funding, and operation of nature and environmental learning centers.

HCNC Seeks Budget and Personnel Stability

In a few weeks, the ANCA team will present a written report providing insight into HCNC’s organization and operations, as well as recommendations on a variety of topics, including moving from an all-volunteer organization funded solely by donations and grants to a nature center organization with stable funding and full and part-time employees.

Kathy Kent, HCNC’s President, explained that the Nature Center Board of Directors is looking forward to the formal recommendations of the Peer Consult team. “I feel that the Peer Consult went very well. The ANCA representatives were extremely helpful and pleasant to work with, and have already given us several new ideas and avenues to pursue toward improving community engagement.” Kathy continued: “I believe that all who participated in the Consult were encouraged by the process and are excited about HCNC’s future.”

The ANCA Peer Consult team was led by Tim Sandsmark, recently retired Director of Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Education Supervisor of the Hiwan Heritage Park in Golden, Colorado. He was joined by Dennis Pilaske, Executive Director of the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, Michigan, and Jenn Wright, Executive Director of Grass River Natural Area in Bellaire, Michigan.

HCNC Improvements Noted

Huron Nature Center Boardwalk
Huron Nature Center Boardwalk

At the conclusion of the two-day Peer Consult, Mr. Sandsmark expressed his appreciation of the strides HCNC has made over the last few years in improving its facilities, building new exhibits in its Visitor Center, and creating over three miles of new trails, stating “the commitment and level of work done here is amazing, especially given that it has all been done by volunteers.” Although ANCA’s formal recommendations to HCNC are yet to come, Sandsmark emphasized that “HCNC is ready for the next phase of organizational development.”

About the Huron County Nature Center Wilderness Arboretum

Huron Nature Center

Huron County Nature Center, Inc. is a Michigan non-profit corporation with Section 501(c)(3) status under the Internal Revenue Code. HCNC operates the nature center, including its hiking and biking trails, visitor center, an amphitheater, on County-owned land located along Loosemore Road just east of Oak Beach Road. HCNC, which was incorporated in 1991, is an all-volunteer organization that relies almost entirely on donations and grants for its operating expenses. The nature center dates to 1941 and was originally managed by the Huron County Women’s Clubs. More information about the Huron County Nature Center can be found on the Huron County Nature Center Web Page and on Facebook.

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