Summit Programming

Types of Programming:

The Summit offers half- and full-day Workshops on the first day that you will pre-register for. They are led by one or two professionals and are designed in the more traditional conference style. 

The Summit features a Keynote Speaker with expertise in a topic relevant to nature and environmental learning center leaders.

Facilitated Sessions are a hallmark of the ANCA Summit. The primary presenter is more a moderator, rather than a single voice, and guides the exchange of ideas based around the topic title. Participants will enrich the discussion by contributing ideas and experiences. The result is a synergistic dialogue that allows for an abundance of perspectives, possibilities, and energy. During the 90-minute sessions participants will have the opportunity to explore various topics more in depth. Have an idea for a topic? What to facilitate? Apply here.

Open Space Sessions provide an opportunity for participants to create their own meeting, continue a session that needs more time, or find a group to address an issue that was not presented elsewhere during the Summit. In the Open Space Meeting, Summit participants will gather and collectively design the session topics that will be offered during Saturday afternoon. We ask, however, that all attendees bring to the meeting those topics that they feel will be relevant and meaningful to themselves and the group.

2017 Magnolia Summit Workshops.

2017 Magnolia Summit Keynote Speaker: Dr. James B. McClintock- Using Antarctica as a Model to Educate About the Pressing Issue of Global Warming

James B. McClintock is one of the world’s foremost experts on Antarctic marine biology, and currently the Endowed University Professor of Polar and Marine Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz (1978) and his doctoral degree from the University of South Florida (1984). In 1987 he completed a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He has led fourteen research expeditions to Antarctica over the past thirty years. McClintock and his research have been featured in National Geographic Magazine, Discover Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, and others. Over the past two decades he and his research collaborators have become among the world’s authorities on Antarctic marine chemical ecology and drug discovery and have developed an award winning interactive educational outreach web site. His expertise on the ecological impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine life of the Antarctic Peninsula has garnered numerous invited lectures and he writes in the popular literature on this timely topic. His book Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land (Palgrave/MacMillan) was released in September 2012 (paperback edition released in 2014 with a Foreward by Sylvia Earle) and has garnered considerable national and international praise (

Get ready for the Keynote!

Jim McClintock is interviewed at the U.S. Palmer Station on the western Antarctic Peninsula about the ongoing impacts of climate change in a recent episode of the worldwide adventure travel television series “Globe Trekker.

Radio interview on NPR’s “On Point with Tom Ashbrook”

Interview with Voice for Clean Air.

Preview of 2017 Magnolia Summit Facilitated Sessions:

People, Parks, and Public Support: Addressing the Uniqueness of Government Nature Centers
Vera Volbrecht, Nature Center Manager of Warner Park Nature Center
Kristin Smith, Interpretive Programs Supervisor at Tualatin Hills Nature Center

Do you mange a government supported city, county, region, or state nature center? Do you regularly have to wrestle with issues like taxpayer support, budget cuts, cost recovery, staff reductions, increasing visitation, and deferred maintenance? If so, you are not alone! Join in for a lively discussion full of shared stories, challenges, and solutions facing government centers!

ANCA Book Club: The Art of Relevance
Kristin Atman Smith, Interpretive Programs Supervisor of Tualatin Hills Nature Center
Do you think about how your organization is relevant in these current times and with changing audiences? Have you read or are you curious about Nina Simon's most recent book: The Art of Relevance? Join us to discuss the topic of relevance- how it is defined, who is your organization relevant to, and how does relevancy relate to your work, mission, and organization? All of this among other, more relevant, questions. 

New on the Job? Less than 5 Years? Come Meet, Share, and Learn with Your Peers
Bryan Wood, Executive Director of Audubon Center of the North Woods
Being at the top of your organization can be overwhelming, lonely, and intimidating. It can also be exhilarating, deeply meaningful, and inspiring. Come meet with your peers who have been in their positions less than 5 years to hear wisdom from their experiences, share your thoughts, and get ideas about how to be more productive, effective, and successful.  

Stop Hiking in Circles: Discussing Resource Management Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes
Heather Stehle, Executive Director of Crane Hollow Preserve
At the 2016 Summit, we shared short case studies from each of our sites and discussed ways we could prioritize the work that was best for our respective resources. It was such a productive discussion, we decided to schedule this session again! Everyone is invited to bring ideas, case studies, copies of resource management plans (or parts of plans), etc. to add to the discussion. We'll focus on supporting each other and prioritizing our work, while working around the ever-present constraints that keep us hiking in circles.  

How to Craft an Exhibit Budget That Will Get You Results
Betty Brennan, Owner, President, and Co-Founder of Taylor Studios Inc.; Samantha Osborne, Marketing Manger of Taylor Studios Inc. 
Learn to craft an exhibit budget from experts in the fabrication business. This session will cover how costs are calculated, how to create a budget, where to spend your money, and how to maximize your dollars. Expect to walk away with the ability to start your own exhibit budget, access to a DIY budgeting tool, an understanding of how exhibit costs break down, and how to be creative in stretching your budget.  

Keynote Follow-Up: Exploring Antarctic Climate Change as a Model to Communicate about Global Warming
Dr. James B. McClintock, Endowed Professor of Marine Biology at University of Alabama and Author of Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land
Looking for strategies to communicate climate change? Engage in a follow-up discussion with our keynote speaker to learn how to use the amazing story of the discovery and mitigation of the hole in the ozone over Antarctica as a model of hope for the future. 

Managing the Multi-Generational Workplace
Vera Vollbrecht, Nature Center Manager of Warner Park Nature Center
Heather Stehle, Executive Director of Crane Hollow Preserve

Today's workforce can span five different generations: Gen 2020's, Millenials, Gen-X'ers, Baby Boomers, and Traditionalists. While managing diverse age groups can be complicated and even frustrating, understanding the strength of each group and how they best relate and work together can ultimately strengthen your staff. Be ready to share questions, challenges, and solutions as we tackle this timely topic.  

Places, Programs & Partners for Greater Audience Visibility 
Mike Fraze, Principal at StudioOutside Landscape Architecture & Planning; Andrew Duggan, Principal at StudioOutside Landscape Architecture & Planning; Jennifer Bristol, Coordinator for Texas Children in Nature with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department; and Sara Beesley Director, Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
Join a discussion with a panel of experts on creating a story across multiple sites, creating successful programs for diverse audiences, and utilizing partnerships to spread your mission all to the end of increasing awareness of your center.  

How to first survive but eventually flourish when dealing with extraordinary personnel issues and/or situations!
Dick Touvell and Charity Krueger, retired Executive Director's of Chippewa Nature Center and Aullwood Audobon Center & Farm will facilitate a panel of Kristen Alexander, Executive Director of Potomac Valley Audobon Society; John DeFillipo, Executive Director of John Bunker Sands Wetland Center; Mary McKinley, Executive Director of Ogden Nature Center; Jason Meyer, President of Blandford Nature Center; Andrea Timpone, Executive Director of Elachee Nature Science Center; and Pat Welch, retired Executive Director of Pine Jog Environmental Education Center
Learn from 8 real life “explosive situations” – from the initial “smoke” through how each was resolved. Explore the following uncomfortable situations but that happen in reality, i.e.,Terminating a well-loved, but toxic staff member - Whistle Blowing to avoid being fired - Sexual misconduct charges – Embezzlement/stealing by employee  - Team member undermining your leadership - -– Board member misconduct and conflict of interest - - Board member misusing authority/funds - responding to gossip after severance of staff member.

Are You an Original?
John Defillipo, Director of the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center 
Corky McReynolds, Principal at LeadTeam Consulting LLC

Trailblazing a new path in our organizations and personal life can be challenging and unpredictable but can reward us in ways never imagined. Guided by the book, Originals- How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant, this session will explore how going against the grain, resisting conformity, and taking a fresh perspective on old traditional thoughts, can create positive change and move us forward. Familiarity with the book, Originals is suggested but not necessary. You can get an overview at

Sharing Ideas for Earned Revenue Sources
Andrea Timpone, President and CEO of Elachee Nature Science Center
This session will explore participants' success stories on developing earned revenue sources. We will be looking for those traditional sources and also some not-so-traditional. Please bring your thoughts to share with the group for lively discussion.

Time Management: Prioritizing the "important, non-urgent" work in an "urgent, important" world
Erin Parker, Programs Manager at Pascagoula River Audubon Center
Most of us are familiar with Steven Covey's Time Management Grid where we divide our tasks into quadrants based on their level of importance and urgency. In this facilitated discussion, we'll share tips and strategies to help us (and our staff, volunteers, and board members) move from the urgent, important quadrant to carve out quality time to focus on and complete the important, non-urgent work. How do we manage our time when every day is different, we all face numerous short-and-long-term deadlines, we're all juggling a wide variety of tasks, and it can feel like we're always "putting out fires"? Bring your best tips and tricks, toughest time-related questions, and most difficult prioritization challenges to this session! 

Leaders in Skirts: A Woman's View from the Top
Haley Breniser, Executive Director of Grass River Nature Area Inc.
Simply put, this is an opportunity for women to gather and learn from each other. It allows us the space to sit and talk freely to one another about our role in leadership, about our responsibility to set positive examples in administration and management, about challenges we've encountered, where we have fallen short, what did we learn? Leaders in Skirts is an open, honest conversation with peers, some new to the field and some spilling their wisdom. Please feel free to bring your sense of humor along... 

Cultivating Community Connection
Glenna Holstein, Menomonee Valley Branch Manager of the Urban Ecology Center
At environmental centers, we can sometimes be more in tune with our plant and animal communities than the human communities that surround us! (Let’s face it, trees and reptiles are usually way easier to understand than humans!) In this session, we will share successes and challenges related to engaging our diverse neighborhoods and communities and we will explore the following questions:
- What is my center’s role within my community or neighborhood?
- How do we learn what our community needs or wants?
- How do we learn what gifts our neighbors have to offer, and meaningfully engage them in our work?
The hope is that we will each leave energized by the potential within our own communities and motivated to take concrete action toward connecting more deeply with our (human) neighbors!

Creating a Nature Center Research Collaborative
Cory Christopher, Director of the Center for Conservation at the Cincinnati Nature Center
During this session, participants will identify those aspects of research, monitoring, and data collection that are most important for their organizations. Together, we will brainstorm ideas for creating a cross-center collaboration that allows all of us to more readily share resources, create more robust and dependable data sets, and that helps us more efficiently coordinate our efforts and identify best practices. The goal of this session is to identify who the key participants are, how we will coordinate and communicate as we build the group, and how we can ensure that all nature centers – regardless of size – can contribute and benefit. Considering the importance of our work in both the conservation and education fields, we will focus not only on ecological data, but on education, engagement, and practical research as well.

If I Had to Do It All Over Again
Tim Sandsmark, Education Supervisor of Jefferson County Open Space and Director of Lookout Mountain Nature Center
Ever wish you could have a “Do Over” or two in your role as a nature/environmental center director? Join fellow administrators in a lively interchange of ideas that if they could have done some things differently what would those be? The responses might be surprising, but hopefully enlightening and provide some idea for avoiding the “Do Overs”.  

Communicating 'Real News' in Today's Political Climate
Amber Parker, Executive Director of Ijams Nature Center
Do current events make you feel like you’ve gone down the rabbit hole or maybe entered the upside-down world of Stranger Things? Most of us are struggling with how to communicate science-based information in a world that can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction and to many who are uncomfortable with education and the “educated”. Let’s gather together to see if our collective wisdom can crack the code so that nature centers continue to be relevant to everyone in our communities.

Executive Burnout: the soul-sucking monster under the bed
Amber Parker, Executive Director of Ijams Nature Center
“Why don’t I like my job any more? I used to be so good at what I did, but now I feel like I’m not making a difference. I’m tired. I’m depressed. I’m distracted. I’m just over it!”
Does this sound like you? You aren’t alone. Many of us have gone through it and many are there now. Burnout is a soul-sucking beast that will make you feel life is devoid of color and wonder. So, let’s kill the monster and reconnect with joy, fulfillment, and peace that we feel we’ve lost.

Advocating for Our Mission
Caitlin Fader, Marketing and Development Assistant at the Association of Nature Center Administrators
It is reported that in the current social and political climate, donors are 7x more likely to give to an advocacy related ask than a fundraising one. This seems to indicate a strong belief in the importance of nonprofits to have a voice in policy and government however, how do nature centers fit into this picture? What is allowed for a 501c3 vs. 501c4? How do we build a collective voice for the nature and environmental learning center profession that serves our missions and goals? How does that voice sound locally vs. nationally? What are our goals? Let's talk advocacy, policy plans, missions, challenges, and networking for change. Bring your mission statements and we will brainstorm around local and national issues that challenge that mission as well as advocacy options available to collectively work past them. 

Picking Your Architectural Team
Francis Velazquez, Manager of Education at Nixon Park Nature Center
Kate Scurlock, GWWO, Inc./Architects
No matter where you are in the process- considering a new building, a remodel, an addition, looking down the road, ready to launch a search - join a conversation with both sides of the selection process as they share ideas on the path to success.  What is it like to dream, plan, and then sit at the table with someone who will impact your facility for the next generation? What is it that leads to a great partnership, success, and a solid realistic design?  

McDowell Environmental Center: A Green Dot in the Southeast
Jennifer Kopnicky, Director of the McDowell Environmental Center
Join Jennifer Kopnicky, Director of the McDowell Environmental Center, on a walking tour of their residential program and facilities. The tour will be followed by an open discussion on RELC (residential environmental learning centers) issues. Come prepared with questions, challenges, and successes you want to share about residential programming. 

Read to Me
Kitty Pochman, Executive Director of the Linda Loring Nature Foundation
Tina Popson, Assistant Director of Student and Recent Alumni at Creighton University
Juggling a demanding work schedule with personal responsibilities can make it difficult to find time to feed our hearts and minds. Reading can bring us pleasure; it is a source of enjoyment, escape, entertainment. But we also learn new things, gain new knowledge, and challenge ourselves mentally. What are you reading - for pleasure or professional development - and what do you like most about book reading?

Alabama Folk School at Camp McDowell
Maggie Johnston, Education Director of McDowell Programs and Alabama Folk School Founding Board Member; Iain MacLeod, Executive Director, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center; Joyce Cauthen, Alabama Folk School Founding Board Member 
The Alabama Folk School was established in 2007 at Camp McDowell and provides opportunity to be inspired and learn from master artisans and musicians and to preserve Alabama’s rich cultural heritage. Join us for a tour of some of the studio spaces (pottery studio, blacksmith shop, teaching kitchen) and a discussion on integrating music, art, and creativity at your center and providing opportunities for audiences of all ages to take a break from today’s busy world and be immersed in traditional folk arts.

You’re the Leader, Now What?!
Ken Voorhis, Chief Operations & Education Officer of Yellowstone Forever
Corky McReynolds, Principal at LeadTeam Consulting LLC
If you are new to leadership or new to this field, join us for a discussion of the myriad challenges of staff leadership. The variety of backgrounds, habits, personalities, skills, and issues your staff bring to your team can be good, bad, and even ugly. We will identify the challenges and brainstorm where to find the resources and solutions we need to be better leaders.

A Great Place to Grow
Melissa Frederick, Magnolia Nature Preschool Teacher
During this session we’ll venture to Magnolia preschooler’s favorite play place for inspiration as we discuss how to bring early childhood learning outdoors in the fresh air. The discussion will include how Magnolia found its way as Alabama’s first Nature based preschool and quickly open up into any challenges, successes, or ventures in ECEE you can share. Let’s grow together.

The Positive Effects of Beijing's New Outside Education Reform n Students
Gu Jinyu, Senior Teacher at Beijing Academy of Educational Sciences (BAES); Mr. Li Weidong, Deputy Director, BAES; Ms. Chen Hong, Senior Teacher, BAES; Mr. Qin Xiaowen, Senior Teacher at BAES; Mr. Jia Xin, Senior Teacher at BAES; 
Elementary and secondary students are benefiting from our new reforms.  Ten percent of every subject area is taught outside the classroom in city-wide venues that enable students to learn from personal experience.  This reform is an integration of ancient Chinese principles of the human being’s relationship with nature and the importance of personal practice in education, supported by John Dewey at the core. Learning from ANCA 2016, BAES will report on three case studies at our new Natural Resource in Beijing and its successful role at supporting experiential learning.