Seven Ponds Nature Center

A Nature Sanctuary and Environmental Education Center

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In the spring edition of Heron Tracks, naturalist Lois Rheaume wrote about changes taking place in nature. We see these changes from year to year, from season to season, and sometimes even from day to day, provided we know where to look. In nature, change is the constant.
Change takes place in organizations as well. Fifty years ago Seven Ponds Nature Center opened its modest doors, setting in motion a series of events which led to the wonderful nature center we know today. Being new to Seven Ponds, I’ve been getting to know the history of this place: the facilities, the land, and the people. The history of Seven Ponds has been a history of change.

The building has seen three major constructions. Ground-breaking for the original structure began in 1966, with a grand opening on May 13, 1967. Within a few years more space was needed to meet increasing demands, and construction began in 1972. The new building included a multi-use classroom, a library, an interpretive area, offices for staff, and a basement. Growth in programs, staff, volunteers, and visitors continued until the center was bursting at the seams. Planning started in 2005 for an ambitious expansion, and in 2008 a capital campaign was announced and initiated. Opening in 2009, the current building stands as a testament to the efforts of countless individuals and organizations who contributed time, energy, and funds to the project.

During the center’s history the grounds have also changed dramatically. Starting with just 100 acres of land and lakes, in short order a boathouse was constructed, docks and teaching platforms put in place, trails and boardwalks carved through the landscape, and the A-frame bridge erected. Over time many other additions to the grounds took place: prairie reconstruction resulting in a 9-acre tallgrass prairie, development of the Woodland Wildflower Area, construction of three observation towers, planting of a Butterfly Garden and Herb Garden, and acquisition of additional land, bringing the nature center’s total area to nearly 500 acres.

All this change in buildings and grounds requires people – and Seven Ponds has been blessed with highly committed, deeply passionate people from the start. Throughout its history, the nature center has seen hundreds of dedicated staff, volunteers, and board members. They become part of the change, helping Seven Ponds move forward and continue to meet its mission: to conserve the natural environment of the nature center as a sanctuary for native plants and animals, as a living classroom for environmental education, and as a peaceful retreat for its visitors.

As the new Executive Director of Seven Ponds Nature Center, I am honored and privileged to join the ranks of countless people who have contributed so much to help Seven Ponds become what it is today – fifty years after its founding. Looking forward, we strive to maintain the vision of the founders, uphold the mission of the center, and meet the demands of an ever-changing world – one that is more in need of a place like Seven Ponds than ever before. Here’s to the challenge of the next fifty years!

Daryl Bernard

Staff Happenings!

RETIREMENTS: Mike Champagne (Executive Director, 25 years), Dan Hayes (Office Manager, 38 years), and Lois Rheaume (Naturalist, 22 years), have each moved on to greener pastures, enjoying the land of retirement. Mike and his wife, Gayle, have relocated to the sunset side of the mitten. Dan is probably standing in a trout stream with a fly rod in his hand and a smile on his face. And Lois is likely paddling the wild lakes of northern Canada. Well-earned and much-deserved—enjoy!

ADDITIONS: Diane Rankin (Office Manager, December 2016), Daryl Bernard (Executive Director, February 2017), and Katie McKiernan (Naturalist, May 2017). Welcome to the Seven Ponds family!

PROMOTIONS: Carrie Spencer has been promoted to Chief Naturalist and Director of Environmental Education. Karen Page is now our Media Specialist and Receptionist, working on the center’s web page and Heron Tracks newsletter. Both Cathy Wesley (Naturalist) and Mike Grappin (Maintenance) will now be full-time staff members. Congratulations to these individuals for taking on new and additional responsibilities.

Board of Director News

The Seven Ponds Nature Center Annual Meeting was held on Saturday, March 25 at the nature center. The Board of Directors reviewed the center’s 2016 activities, thanked our outgoing board member, and elected officers. Kathy Churchill completed her second consecutive three-year term, finishing up her time on the Board. Kathy graciously agreed to remain as chair of the Development Committee. At the time of the meeting, the vacant seat was not filled. Mike Butterfield, Emory Clark, and Charlie Turner returned for second Board terms. The following officers were also elected at the Annual Meeting: Mary-Sue Weber, Chairman; Nan Toppin, Vice-Chairman; Paul Messing, Treasurer; and Kelly Heyner, Secretary.