Mission & History

The people who run nature and environmental learning centers began getting together 30 years ago to share ideas, experiences, and hard-won professional wisdom. Those early conversations soon became the Association of Nature Center Administrators (ANCA), a professional association dedicated to leaders in the nature and environmental learning center profession, including directors, managers, senior administrators and board members. It is the only such organization in the United States. The ANCA network is designed to enhance professionalism and provide the support system critical to innovative and progressive management.

Mission

The Association of Nature Center Administrators promotes and supports best leadership and management practices for the nature and environmental learning center profession.

History

The Association of Nature Center Administrators is a private nonprofit organization that was founded in 1989 to create a professional association solely of and for leaders in the nature center profession-directors, managers, senior administrators, and Board members. It is the only such organization in the U.S.

In its early years, ANCA operated as an affiliate of the National Institute for Urban Wildlife and then incorporated in Ohio in 1993 as an independent membership organization. ANCA obtained its 501(c)3 status in 1995 and is funded through grants, gifts, memberships, and services. In 2007 the ANCA office moved to Logan, UT.

Today, ANCA embraces and supports 650+ dues-paying members from all over the world. See our Member Map here

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Statement

The Association of Nature Center Administrators is actively working to be an inclusive organization, and on November 1, 2017 the ANCA board of directors approved the following statement of diversity, equity, and inclusion:

ANCA will model diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in all our policies, practices and procedures. ANCA will:

  • Create a diverse, equitable and inclusive membership by recruiting members from all arenas of the nature center and environmental learning profession as well as by retaining current members.
  • Communicate our policies and procedures related to diversity, equity and inclusion to our members and non-members alike.
  • Conduct programs and provide services that support and encourage our membership to include DEI policies and strategies in their work in their own communities
  • Collect, conduct and share best practices related to our work on DEI to the profession. 

Definitions:

Diversity (from Center for Intercultural Engagement at Luther College): Diversity encompasses complex differences and similarities in perspectives, identities, and points of view among members of an institution as well as among individuals who make up the wider community. Diversity includes important and interrelated dimensions of human identity such as race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, socio-economic status, nationality, citizenship, religion, sexual orientation, ability, and age. These differences are important to understand but they cannot be used to predict any individual’s values, choices or responses.

Equity: (from Policy Link’s “Equity Manifesto): “just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. Unlocking the promise of the nation by unleashing the promise in us all.”

Inclusion (from Ferris State University): Inclusion is involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized. An inclusive [organization] promotes and sustains a sense of belonging; it values and practices respect for the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living of its members.

Dignity (from Ubuntu Research and Evaluation): “reciprocal self-worth shared between an individual and society. Every human being should understand themselves to be worth because the people around them are worthy. Conversely, everyone should be treated with a sense of worthiness because each individual sees themselves as worthy.”

Justice: (from Center for Economic and Social Justice): “One definition of justice is ‘giving to each what he or she is due.” …Functionally, “justice” is a set of universal principles which guide people in judging what is right and what is wrong, no matter what culture and society they live in…The ultimate purpose of [justice] is to elevate the dignity and sovereignty of the human person.

We welcome feedback from the ANCA Community in this effort. See our non-comprehensive, always evolving list of DEI resources here and share your suggestions for further resources.

5 Year Strategic Plan Highlights

By 2025, ANCA will...

1) Have organizational capacity and financial stability to meet its current and future objectives.

  • Strategy 1.1: Identify, plan for, and secure the components for our financial stability.
  • Strategy 1.2: Identify, plan for, and secure the components for our organizational capacity.

2) Maintain best practices that promote diversity, equity, and inclusiveness within our membership and the profession.

  • Strategy 2.1: Educate ourselves about the issues and practices around DEI.
  • Strategy 2.2: Develop plan for implementing DEI Best Practices for ANCA and our members.
  • Strategy 2.3: Foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive ANCA membership.

3) Continue to recognize and promote its core values while responding and adapting to trends within the dynamic profession.

  • Strategy 3.1: Revisit/redefine ANCA's core values.
  • Strategy 3.2: Communicate core values to the ANCA membership.
  • Strategy 3.3: Facilitate member networking for sharing emerging trends and initiatives.
  • Strategy 3.4: Periodically seek trends affecting the nature center profession within and outside our field.

4) Be the leading source for professional development tools and relevant resources for leaders and aspiring leaders in the nature and environmental center field.

  • Strategy 4.1: Maintain a suite of delivery methods to provide resources for leaders and aspiring leaders.
  • Strategy 4.2: Regularly evaluate delivery methods for effectiveness and seek new ideas and resources.