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A 2009 Roadmap for Building a Sustainable Region

As we begin our three year management contract, with the City of Evansville, to manage Wesselman Nature Preserve and Howell Wetlands we review the roads we have traveled to bring us to this point. We are excited about the new education programs that have already been developed, and we look forward to offering a number of new events and public programs for the community in this coming year. We also have many challenges and initiatives which will need our attention in 2009.

Completion of the new Howell Wetlands Education Center is expected this year. In addition to providing shelter for programs, this facility will include an emphasis on creating an environmentally-friendly building.

As I review our programs and initiatives, I see the most important parts of tomorrow – children in the woods, at the wetlands and on the waterways. Children are enthused by the feel, the look, and the smells of the natural resource we call an outdoor classroom, and that kind of enthusiasm has staying power!

Their eyes are bright and they are full of questions as they try to satisfy their curiosity about the incredible places we have all worked to preserve for the future. There are new mysteries and experiences around every bend in the trail, through every gurgling drop of the river, and in every leaf housing a cocoon waiting to open. Children and nature, a natural connection. Wesselman Nature Society makes that connection possible.

The existing Wesselman Woods Nature Center will undergo a remodel to better serve the community as well as the program and education events hosted by the WNS. This will include the acquisition of professionally designed interpretive displays that emphasize hands-on and experiential learning experiences for our visitors.

Wesselman Nature Society must continue to build our membership through both recruiting new members and retaining current members. By improving public relations and communications, and expanding our marketing strategy, we hope to see this membership base grow.

As WNS leaders, we are crucial in garnering community support for our mission. Our challenge is to make our fundraising events successful and to continue telling “our story” to as many of our friends, family, and potential supporters throughout our city and region. With the many goals to accomplish this year, our responsibility to grow public interest and support of WNS is greater than ever. I am confident that we can successfully implement solutions to the many challenges we must face in 2009. We can do this through the combined efforts of Wesselman Nature Society Board of Directors, Staff, and our Members.

I see a bright future ahead of us, one in which we will be recognized regionally for both our natural treasures and their potential as outdoor classrooms. Together, we can showcase the educational, research, conservation, and recreational values of our woodlands, wetlands and waterways.

Wesselman Nature Society works diligently with our members, community partners and, the City of Evansville, to maintain and manage the 200-acre Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, the 35-acre Howell Wetlands, and to showcase the waterways of our region. Our goal sounds simple; we want these resources to have the healthiest diversity of plants and animals possible, and we want children and adults to use them as places to come for learning, inspiration, renewal, and recreation.

That goal has led us through an ongoing process which is mapped, in part, by an evolving management plan. Our primary areas of focus this year have been building a new outdoor classroom and improved wetland dam system at Howell Wetlands, improving trail systems, creating education for early childhood, partnering with community businesses to expand and share our enthusiasm for sustainable practices.

We are frequently reminded of the lesson that everything is connected. Our quality of life is directly connected to the quality of the environment. Companies and individuals alike seek a place that enhances life by offering a positive and sustainable environment and a caring community.

The connections are clear, and the association is strong. Preserving for tomorrow—infusing the values of a healthy environment through education as well as preserving these incredible resources—is the heart of sustainable living. This is our work, and we thank you for your support of this mission.

Kim Meadors WNS Executive Director/CEO

Gil Himebaugh President of the WNS Board of Directors

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