Success Stories

For 28 years, ANCA has been serving the nature and environmental learning center community and has had a profound impact on the success of administrators of these centers across North America.

"When I took my first nature center director position, I was pretty green, so to speak, to the challenges and opportunities of being a director. Fortunately I found ANCA.  I attended the first ANCA Summit at Treehaven in Wisconsin along with about 30 other directors and it was an extremely valuable experience.  I think it was the first time I uttered the words "I found my people" ... an expression of joy that I have repeated many times in the almost 20 years since then. I truly had found my people and feel very fortunate to have ANCA and, most importantly, the people who make up ANCA in my life."
Tim Sandsmark, Jefferson County Open Space

Successful Succession Planning

One of the challenges we face in our work is developing sustainable infrastructure that enables us to pass the reins to the next generation of leadership. Too often we hear of poorly organized transitions that result in chaos, uncertainty, and in some cases, failure. It takes courage to think about what’s next and successful organizations will take the time to develop
succession plans to ensure smooth transitions of leadership. In 2010, in anticipation of the retirement of long-time executive director Rich Patterson,
the Indian Creek Nature Center employed an ANCA Peer Consult, and as a result, developed and then implemented a Succession Plan to lead the organization through the transition. 

Read Indian Creek Nature Center Succession Story

Collective Knowledge Contributes to Leadership Success

Interactions with fellow nature center directors were important for the professional growth of Carolyn Chipman Evans who received the 2014 ANCA Nature Center Leadership Award. Carolyn credits ANCA for providing the teachers she needed to become a component leader and realize her dream of creating and nurturing the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm in Boerne, TX.

Read Carolyn's Success Story

Professional Partnerships 

ANCA provides important peer connections, a great example is the
professional friendship that exists between two ANCA members, Jason
Meyer, President and CEO of Blandford Nature Center and Susan Westhoff, Executive Director of Leslie Science & Nature Center.

Read Jason and Susan's Success Story

A Circle of Leadership and Service

Patty Weisse is a long-term beneficiary of ANCA’s resources and an integral member of the ANCA community. For fifteen years she successfully guided Baltimore Woods Nature Center in a new and unique direction by
reevaluating policies, rebranding the center, and developing a capacity
building program. ANCA played an important part by providing networking and leadership opportunities through the annual Summit, the
Professional Leadership Institute co-sponsored and taught at Delaware Nature Society, and a Peer Consult. Now Patty serves on the ANCA board, presents at Summits, is an ANCA mentor, and is a Peer Consult team member. 

Read Patty's Success Story

From Concept to Nature Preschool, ANCA Networks Count

Elachee Nature Science Center’s connections with ANCA were vital in helping them move from the “wouldn’t it be nice” stage to the “we need to do this” stage. After an ANCA Peer Consult in 2011 with experienced preschool and center directors providing them with energy, recommendations for locations, processes, staffing, logistics, etc., they received a grant to explore market feasibility, financial scenarios, and state licensure requirements. Armed with positive outcomes, bolstered by the ANCA consult, they kick started the idea
of a capital campaign with their Board to fund both the indoor classroom renovations enhanced by the outdoor nature playscape. Today Elachee’s
Nature Preschool is up and running and going strong! 

Read Elachee Nature Science Center's Success Story

ANCA Culture: Supporting Emerging Leaders

One of the most frequent comments we hear about the strength of ANCA is
the total willingness of ANCA members to nurture and support the
development of emerging leaders. The journey of Ruth Lundin into the
position of President of the Jamestown Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Jamestown, New York with the help of Charity Krueger, Executive Director of Aullwood Audubon Center & Farm, is testimony to this core value of the ANCA culture.

Read Ruth's Success Story

Long-term Membership & Giving Back to the Network

ANCA membership offers a truly personal network of highly skilled,
experienced leaders who are willing to share their learning and expertise with their colleagues. Ken Finch is a great example of a long-term ANCA member
who has benefited for more than 20 years from countless networking opportunities with his peers and is now giving back to the profession as Executive Director of the Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood in Omaha, Nebraska. 

Read Ken's Success Story


Organizational Upheaval and Ultimate Success

Executive Director Amber Parker used the ANCA Summit to motivate staff and strive for excellence as the capstone of a much larger organizational revitalization. After hosting the 2012 Summit, the Marine Science Consortium took part in an ANCA Phone Consult to help them rebrand. Chincoteague Bay Field Station’s success is “built upon ANCA advice, best practices, and well wishes. We couldn’t ask for a sturdier foundation.”

Read Amber's Success Story

Professional Success and the Power of Mentoring

ANCA fosters a network of professionals who support each other toward a common mission of connecting people with nature. Read about the
professional relationship between mentor Cynthia Harrell and mentee John DeFillipo and how John has achieved professional success as
Executive Director of the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center near Seagoville, Texas.

Read John's Success Story


Bringing Best Practices From All Over the Country to Expand A Center's Vision 

Steve Engel, the Chief Executive Officer of Tamarack Camps, along with his staff and board knew that the aging camp needed to be updated to stay viable. They had dreams of expanding the usage of its year-round facility, but they were not sure how best to proceed. If not handled correctly, they knew that organizational growing pains could cause many unforeseen problems. So as part of the site plan for the capital and endowment campaign to renovate the camp, Tamarack included an ANCA Peer Consult to help them envision a redesigned facility.

After the Consult, Steve concluded, “The consult went above and beyond what we had asked them to do. We not only received a vision of a world-class nature center, the team saw issues that were not even on our radar screen. They helped us reexamine our siloed programs through the lens of Tamarack’s mission and recommended that we look at ourselves as one agency. They even encouraged us to enhance our food services.”

Read Steve's Success Story