The Woodcock Nature Center, a nonprofit environmental education organization in Wilton and Ridgefield, has grown tremendously over the past 20 years, so it is time to manage that growth, in the view of the organization’s leaders.
To that end, the nature center has developed a strategic plan, made in partnership with the Community Partners Program, an initiative of the Harvard Business School Club of Connecticut.
The consulting services were provided to the nonprofit pro bono.
“We felt that we now need a concrete plan for directing our growth to make sure that it’s sustainable and supported by the community,” said Mike Rubbo, director of the center. “A major focus of the plan is to help us build the support we need to grow through the development of our board and fund-raising capabilities.”
Another important component of the plan is getting feedback on programs from program participants, teachers, donors, and community leaders, he said. “We are using this feedback to modify our current programs and to shape future programs,” Rubbo said.
To create this plan, Community Partners assembled a team of seven Harvard Business School (HBS) alumni to work with Woodcock leadership over a four-month period.
“It has been a wonderful experience for our alumni volunteers. We were delighted with the commitment and assistance of Woodcock leadership and staff, and mightily impressed with the high regard that those who know Woodcock feel for this fine nature center,” said Jeffrey Krulwich, chair of the project committee. “Woodcock has many opportunities — we are proud that our work may help guide its growth.”
The final report identifies four specific areas for Woodcock to focus on to facilitate its growth: board development, fund-raising, programs, and partnerships. The plan also identifies specific action items for each area to be implemented over the next three years.
“The plan identifies specific actions that we will take in each of these areas. For example, for board development, we have recently conducted an assessment of our current members’ skills and demographics,” Rubbo said.
“This has identified areas where we are currently lacking expertise and will focus our recruitment of new members. We are also developing a program committee which will be composed of teachers, naturalists, and others who will help us ensure that our programs are meeting the needs of the community while fulfilling our mission.”
As a place to visit, Woodcock has a lot to offer. The 150-acre preserve has over three miles of family-friendly trails that are open to the public year-round at no charge. Visitors can see a variety of habitats on our preserve including forests, ponds, vernal pools, streams, and wetlands. There is also a nature center with native and exotic animals on display and a small nature-themed children’s playground.
“Our strongest selling point as an educational organization is our focus on local habitats, plants, and animals. We want people to understand how special the environment of the area is and what they can do as individuals to protect it,” Rubbo said.
“We educate about 3,500 people each year,” he added. “This includes school programs, summer camp, after-school programs, and lectures and workshops. We estimate that another 4,000 visit our preserve each year to participate in our events and to hike and enjoy nature. Our focus on growth is not on numbers but on impact. We want to inspire our program participants to change their attitudes and behaviors so that they become better environmental stewards.”
Woodcock Nature Center at 56 Deer Run Road is a 501(C) (3) nonprofit organization with an active volunteer program for those who may be interested in contributing to the management and growth of its programs.
Information: 203-762-7280 or visit woodcocknaturecenter.org.