August 05, 2020

2020 Nature Center Leadership Award

Andrea Timpone, recipient of the 2020 ANCA Leadership AwardAndrea Timpone, recipient of the 2020 ANCA Leadership Award.The Association of Nature Center Administrators is pleased to announce Andrea Timpone as recipient of the 2020 Nature Center Leadership Award. Timpone has led a remarkable career, and this award acknowledges her exceptional commitment and contributions to the nature center profession as a whole, as well as her invaluable leadership at Elachee Nature Science Center for 35 years.

Timpone began her career in environmental education in 1979, working as an interpretive naturalist at Panola Mountain State Park in Georgia. In 1981 she joined Tumbling Waters, a residential camp near Clayton, Georgia. In 1985 she became Elachee Nature Science Center’s first employee as an instructor, six years after the organization was officially founded. In 1988 she became Executive Director of Elachee and later President/CEO; she has been in that role since then.

Under Timpone’s leadership, Elachee has grown from humble beginnings to an exceptional institution that serves approximately 35,000 schoolchildren throughout northern Georgia, encompasses Elachee Nature Academy that includes a Nature Preschool and Nature Kindergarten-1st Grade programs, hosts camps and public programs, and preserves over 1,900 acres while maintaining conservation projects that have earned the status of National Audubon Important Bird Area and part of the national Old-Growth Forest Network. In 1998, Elachee became the first nature center in the southeast to earn the prestigious status of SACS/AdvancED-accreditation (now Cognia), granted by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Timpone has contributed strongly to the profession of nature and environmental learning centers; Elachee was one of the founding members of ANCA in 1989 and Timpone has proven generous to the ANCA community, serving on two ANCA Peer Consults and as a mentor in the ANCA Mentor Program. Under her guidance Elachee hosted the 2015 ANCA Summit, and has hosted or participated in multiple ANCA Southeast Region meetings.

Timpone has also demonstrated leadership within broader environmental communities, being a founding board member of the Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia, and formerly serving as President and board member of Earthshare Georgia, an organization that provides funding for environmental organizations across the state.

Elachee Nature Science CenterElachee Nature Science CenterDick Touvell, retired executive director of Chippewa Nature Center and recipient of the 2016 ANCA Nature Center Leadership Award, writes of Timpone’s career: “Elachee and Andrea's story is one of successfully pursuing opportunities, creatively adjusting to challenges and constantly being an innovator. She is the first to say she has been fortunate to be associated with committed staff throughout the years; however, the state-of-the-art facility now in place would not have happened without her extraordinary leadership.”

Pat Welch, retired executive director of the Pine Jog Environmental Education Center and recipient of the 2009 ANCA Nature Center Leadership Award, commends Timpone for her achievements both at Elachee and within ANCA. “Andrea is a remarkable leader who strives for excellence, who thoughtfully visions the future and charts a realistic course to achieve goals, and a leader who continuously involves her staff and peers in navigating the course to success,” she says. “Andrea has distinguished herself with exceptional leadership at her nature center, within our profession and among her peers in the ANCA network.”

Jerry Hightower, Environmental Education Coordinator for the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, mentions that Timpone’s often-unseen work has impacted thousands of people, and echoes Touvell’s statement. “I do not think that we would have the extraordinary Elachee that is so important to environmental education and interpretation without Andrea's indomitable creative spirit.”

To recognize Timpone’s achievements, ANCA will host an Awards Ceremony during the 2020 ANCA Virtual Summit, September 14-17.

Elachee Nature Center’s Chicopee Woods Aquatic Studies Center at Chicopee LakeElachee Nature Science Center’s Chicopee Woods Aquatic Studies Center at Chicopee Lake


The ANCA Nature Center Leadership Award recognizes an individual who in their role at the highest administrative level of an organization has made a major contribution to the success of a nature center (or centers), as well as important contributions to the profession through professional organizations (particularly ANCA), and through the support and mentoring of other nature center leaders.

The Association of Nature Center Administrators (ANCA) is the only professional association in the United States dedicated to leaders in the nature and environmental learning center profession, including directors, managers, and senior administrators. ANCA supports 700+ dues-paying members from all over the world.