Open 361 Days a Year: Admissions 10:00am – 3:30pm; park closes at 4:30pm

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Construction is in progress around our barnyard area. During this time, our barnyard animals will be interacting with new habitats inside and outside of the barn and receiving daily enrichment. Please bear with us while we make improvements for our animals and guests!
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Friends Welcomes New Executive Director

Friends of the WNC Nature Center Executive Director Karen Babcock

The Board of the Friends of the WNC Nature Center is excited to introduce Karen Babcock, our new Executive Director! Karen has a long history of nonprofit leadership, serving recently at the director level within Folkmoot and Maryland’s Ladew Topiary Gardens. The Friends’ is dedicated to providing the resources to support high quality growth of the WNC Nature Center and its efforts to educate the public about the natural history and ecology of the Southern Appalachians. We’re thrilled to have Karen here to help lead us on this mission!

From Karen Babcock:

They asked me, “If you could be any animal, which would it be?” Immediately I shot back, “Timber rattlesnake.” Not your typical response, I found out later. But it was my first choice because Timber rattlers are amazing. It’s the only snake I’ve watched in my backyard that moves like a four-legged predator (or maybe the four-legged critters move like a rattlesnake). They exude power and control and mastery of their environment. I’d love to see the world from their vantage point (and watch all the scurrying humans!).

So my employment interview concluded, and I must have said something right, as I am here writing this to you now. I have worked in nonprofit leadership for the majority of my career. Most recently I served as executive director for the Waynesville-based Folkmoot USA. I developed relationships with elected officials, donors and community members to increase fundraising and facilitated a $1.3 million facility gift to the organization. Prior to moving to Western North Carolina, I was associate director and public relations director for Maryland’s Ladew Topiary Gardens. I managed the Nature Walk at Ladew, created a corporate sponsorship program, rebranded the organization, and served as curator for the historic house and collections. A master’s degree in Human Resource Development has provided me substantial tools for developing organizations.

It is with great anticipation that I look forward to serving and saving the wildlife of Western North Carolina. With the WNC Nature Center as a spectacular resource for all of us, we can make a difference—from understanding the perspective of snakes to preserving the critically endangered Red Wolf.

I am truly grateful for the opportunity to meet you and your families as we work together to educate our communities about the wonders in our backyards.

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