Stokes Nature Center: Serving Clients With Renewed Dedication
Despite 2020’s numerous challenges, Stokes Nature Center (SNC) experienced its most successful year, serving at least 20,000 outdoor enthusiasts in 2020, almost 60% more than the year before, because its staff adapted to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
In March 2020, the organization ceased all in-person programming per public health recommendations. However, the organization knew its work would be needed more than ever during the pandemic’s uncertainty.
“When so many places closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, our organization welcomed both returning and first-time users,” said executive director Kendra Penry. “We want everyone visiting our natural world to know how to protect it so it can nurture us for generations to come.”
Even without its usual revenue, the SNC kept working and, within 48 hours, created their first virtual program, Stay Home with Stokes. The program encourages individuals of all ages to get outdoors wherever they can. Additionally, it took its free weekly children’s storytime and adult workshops online and provided content to more than 1,000 people weekly.
However, the organization realized additional education was needed, with public land usage increasing by 300% in 2020. Outdoor enthusiasts needed new and creative ideas of how to enjoy nature safely.
SNC staff created in-person programming with low attendance numbers to adhere to public health guidelines. The classes included Art of Observation summer camps that taught children to observe and record nature at a safe physical distance. Community members also participated in bubble hikes, a physically distanced summer concert series, and small group snowshoe adventures. The organization continually looks for fun and creative ways to engage with the public, and it recently launched its virtual preschool.
These activities required participants to wear face masks supplied free-of-charge by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED).
“Like many nonprofits and small businesses, the pandemic severely decreased our revenues, often by more than 50%, but our work cannot stop,” added Penry. ”We can get creative with our funding if necessary because the community needs us.”
One participant in SNC’s reduced-size firefly tours noted, ‘I loved this, and I hope it continues for many more generations,’”
Even in uncertainty, the SNC programming for 2021 is underway, and it includes a first-of-its-kind children’s book about Cache Valley using a Create in Utah grant offered by the Utah Department of Heritage & Arts.
More information is available at logannature.org.
About the organization: The Allen and Alice Stokes Nature Center is a nonprofit nature center established in 1997 that envisions a future where people of all ages appreciate and are stewards of our natural world. Stokes Nature Center is the official educational permittee of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and the USDA-designated Logan Canyon Children’s Forest. Current programs include the nature preschool, summer camps, school programs, Nature Tales, Canyon Conversations, Canyon Jams, and more.