Educational Institutions

Lake Erie Junior Nature & Science Center

Discover the Universe in Your Backyard

aka Lake Erie Nature & Science Center   |   Bay Village, OH   |


Lake Erie Nature & Science Center educates and inspires people to understand, appreciate and take responsibility for our natural world.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Mrs. Catherine Timko

Main address

28728 Wolf Road

Bay Village, OH 44140 USA

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Formerly known as

Lake Erie Junior Nature & Science Center



Cause area (NTEE code) info

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

Natural History, Natural Science Museums (A56)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Nature is important to children’s intellectual, emotional, social and physical development. Numerous commentaries about “nature deficit disorder” are in publication today as our world has become more urbanized and technologically focused. Opportunities for very young children and school-aged children to interact with, learn about, and experience nature are becoming more uncommon as society tends toward structured environments and learning modes. Many children have become isolated from exploring nature and understanding their environment due to increased time using technological devices. The result is that many children are not familiar with positive attributes of natural landscapes and its various living organisms, nor responsibility they have to become stewards of their environment as they grow to adulthood. Similarly, families with increasingly demanding schedules have a need for high quality family time in places that afford young children repeatable experiences as they grow.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

School Services, Preschool and Public Programs

The Center focuses on giving young children and school-age students hands on experiences to discover the natural world. Its resources are wildlife, exhibits, planetarium and park setting near the shores of Lake Erie. In the last year, the Center served more than 23,000 preschoolers and their parents through various early childhood programs including our nature-based preschool classes. The Center served more than 4,500 Girl, Cub and Boy Scouts with approximately 70 unique Scout programs. More than 14,000 students from kindergarten to college participated in summer camps, school programs and field trips, involving Physical, Life, Earth and Space Science concepts. The Center works with teachers and curriculum specialists to ensure that field trips are aligned to Ohio academic content standards. Project Wildlife is a youth service learning program that provides high school students hands-on learning with native animals, which is an experience unique to the Center.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth (0-19 years)

Where we work

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

Informal science education for children is the overarching goal of the Center utilizing our unique combination of resources: a wildlife rehabilitation facility, planetarium, natural science exhibits, and live animal displays, all within a parkland setting near Lake Erie. The Center employs full time and part time staff who are experienced and trained professionals with credentials in early childhood education, astronomy, physics, wildlife rehabilitation, biology, and natural history. Instructors provide interactive learning experiences in a wide variety of ongoing programs that encourage children to develop an attitude of inquiry and respect for the natural world.

The mission of Lake Erie Nature & Science Center “to educate and inspire all of us to understand, appreciate and take responsibility of the natural world.” Our means of accomplishing this mission are programs and services and enjoyment of the facility and its exhibits. Programs and services include learning experiences facilitated by a staff member which are school field trips, seasonal family events, preschool programs, planetariums shows, wildlife programs, wildlife intakes and inquiries and scout programs. In addition to these scheduled learning experiences, admission to the facility is free to all allowing visitors to enjoy indoor and outdoor exhibits about natural history, space science and wildlife including live animals. Our goal is to help educate people through all of these means, and ideally provide this education through repeated visits over the course of a child’s development years.

The Center is both a children’s museum and nature center with a distinct pairing of teaching expertise and science resources in one location. Our highly trained and experienced staff of full-time and part-time employees have credentials in early childhood education, astronomy, physics, wildlife rehabilitation, biology and natural history. Embodying scientific background along with service-oriented people skills, our instructors give visitors of all ages enthusiastic and effective learning experiences. The Center’s wildlife rehabilitation program is the only one in Cuyahoga County, receiving intakes from the public to its recently upgraded and expanded facility. Our recently transformed planetarium is one of two public access domes in the Cleveland area, featuring a dual projection system and new sound and lighting. The Center's location in a park setting within walking distance of Lake Erie provides an outdoor classroom highlighting natural history in a variety of landscapes.

A mission impact survey obtained quantifiable information from our visitors about the change our offerings make in their lives. Questions and response formats were designed with our mission statement as a guide. The first level of questions asked about how much people learned from their visit to address the degree of understanding gained. Secondly, questions about values around nature and science looked at the appreciation factor. Thirdly, questions about personal actions at home or through a hobby focused on how visitors are taking responsibility for the natural world.

The results of the mission impact survey are positive and build evidence of our mission relevancy. The overwhelming majority of respondents mostly visit to see to indoor/outdoor exhibits, 95.4% agreed that we help them gain a better understanding of the natural world, and 83.2% agreed that they return to the Center to take part in additional programs. Mixed responses were received about whether the Center has inspired them to ignite a new hobby or join a community effort, 54.6% agreed and 32.7% were indifferent. Demographic information was also collected. Approximately 400 responses were received, which is approximately 10% greater than response to previous efforts. Using the survey results , the Board of Directors and staff leadership created a new strategic plan which engaged community members, partners, staff and board members in sub-groups to define goals in four areas of Programs, People, Place and Prosperity. The Board of Directors approved the five year plan in August, 2017.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is the organization collecting feedback?

    We regularly collect feedback through: electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), paper surveys, suggestion box/email, program feedback forms.

  • How is the organization using feedback?

    We use feedback to: to identify and remedy poor client service experiences, to identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, to make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, to inform the development of new programs/projects, to identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, to strengthen relationships with the people we serve.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    We share feedback with: the people we serve, our staff, our board, our funders, our community partners.

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to: we don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time.

  • What significant change resulted from feedback

    For decades families have told us how much they value the experience of seeing live animals in our many indoor and outdoor exhibits. They have told us that their visits at the Center give them high quality time together for learning and discovery. In the last three years we increased the educational content of our exhibit signage by 75% and increased the number of exhibits for public enjoyment. These exhibit improvements provide more value to the visitors and are still enjoyed free 7 days each week.


Lake Erie Junior Nature & Science Center

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Lake Erie Junior Nature & Science Center

Board of directors
as of 5/29/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mrs. Trudy Pauken

Retired, Reading Specialist, Westlake City School District

Term: 2020 - 2022

Board co-chair

Mr. John Cavalier

Gary Garling


Katie Colacarro

Nordson Corporation

Devin Barry

Thompson Hine LLP

Bruce Cady

IBM, retired

John Cavalier

Cohen & Company

Bryan Gacka

Ernst & Young

Eric German

Bober Markey Fedorovich

Jessica Kerrigan


William Nowak

Eaton Corporation

Kyle Nowlin


Lisa Roth

Ziegler Metzger, LLP

Zachary Stephens

Deloitte & Touche LLP

R. Thomas

The Sherwin-Williams Company

Allen Waddle

Maloney + Novotny

William Watkins

Harris Williams & Co. subsidiary of PNC

Jeffrey Whitesell

Tucker Ellis

Char Shryock

Bay Village Schools

Scott Simmons

Maroon Group

Phillip Callesen


Trudy Pauken

Retired, Westlake City Schools

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 05/22/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not Transgender (Cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data


Education, Children, Families, Students, Space Science, Wildlife, Natural History