Environmental Quality Protection, Beautification

Riveredge Nature Center, Inc.

A new kind of nature center.

Newburg, WI   |  www.riveredgenaturecenter.org

Mission

The mission of Riveredge Nature Center is To support conservation through education that awakens curiosity, engages the body, and explores connections to nature for all generations.

Riveredge is working to become the leading Midwest destination for learning, discovering, and experiencing the interconnections between nature and society. We do this through creating partnerships which transform the culture of our formal education systems, communities, and lifestyles.

Ruling year info

1968

Executive Director

Ms. Jessica Jens

Main address

PO Box 26

Newburg, WI 53060 USA

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EIN

39-6108549

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

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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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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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?

Education

A Sense of Place The land at Riveredge has always and continues to be the heart-center of all that we do. For almost 50 years volunteers and staff have labored to care for this land, to showcase the rich diversity of its habitats. The result is a gift to everyone who walks its paths. Our land—prairies, forests, wetlands—inspires our work to bring nature to communities. From schoolyards to backyards, Riveredge is committed to connecting everyone to nature where they are.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

Riveredge has been at the forefront of academic, scientific, and citizen science research since the organization’s conception in the late 1960’s. It’s proximity to the Milwaukee River and it’s habitat diversity throughout the sanctuary allows for scientific discovery at all ages. Riveredge staff and volunteers contribute to many local, statewide and some national population citizen science initiatives. Riveredge has been, and is currently, involved with the Lake Sturgeon Reintroduction Project, a 20 year project of reintroducing lake sturgeon back into Lake Michigan, the Swamp Metalmark Butterfly Reintroduction Project, and various projects involving the introduction of the invasive emerald ash borer. We have been involved in several state-wide citizen science initiatives including water quality testing, ephemeral pond monitoring, MAPS bird banding and the WI Annual Christmas Bird Count.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

The Riveredge wildlife sanctuary is the cornerstone of Riveredge’s education, research, and land stewardship programming. This restored farmland, with its diversity of ecosystems, grounds the visitor in both time and space and is a reminder that place is important. The sanctuary’s pristine nature is the result of volunteers who cut buckthorn, and pull garlic mustard and Dame’s rocket. Thanks to these “Habitat Healers” the forest ground cover, come spring, is not overrun with invasives, but rather dappled with May apple, trillium, and wild geranium. Thanks to these individuals, children from schools throughout southeastern Wisconsin experience the diversity of ecosystems native to their state and learn how their actions can affect these ecosystems.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

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?

Riveredge is working to become the leading Midwest destination for learning, discovering, and experiencing the interconnections between nature and society. We are creating partnerships which transform the culture of our formal education systems, communities, and lifestyles.

Today, Riveredge is redefining the role of the nature center in the community by launching programs that encourage exploration, adventure, and fun in the great outdoors. Getting families outdoors—where they are in their neighborhoods and schools—is one way Riveredge can advance its audacious goal of connecting nature and society through partnerships which transform our formal education systems, communities, and lifestyles.<br/><br/>In honor of the pioneering history of Riveredge, our initial strategies included: <br/>• Implement the pilot program of our Riveredge Scientist in Residence program with the West Bend School District and speak to all area school districts about expanding this program to reach their students and teachers;<br/>• Join the National Park Foundation's Every Kid in a Park program by providing all the incoming 4th grade students in Sheboygan, Washington, and Ozaukee counties with family trail pass memberships from September 2015-August 2016. As the National Park Director, Jonathan B. Jarvis explains, “Notice that the name of this initiative is not Every Kid in a National Park, its Every Kid in a Park." Riveredge is dedicated to making this happen for our local communities.<br/>• Lead the creation of Family Nature Clubs in our local communities. As Richard Louv asks, “What if more and more parents, grandparents, and kids around the country band together to create outdoor adventure clubs, family nature networks, family outdoor clubs, or green gyms? What if this approach becomes the norm in every community?"<br/>• Launch the Children and Nature Alliance of Southeastern Wisconsin. We will bring together leaders in the areas of health, architecture, government, and education to help us bring nature into conversations about children's health and well-being. We've already had strong interest in this initiative from the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance, the Milwaukee Zoo, Brookfield Park & Rec, and the Eastern Region of the USDA Forest Service – and that's before we've even official launched the conversation! <br/><br/>Riveredge is more than a nature center. These are new strategies for a new day.

Over the past 24 months, staff and board have worked to develop a plan to sustain Riveredge for the long term. This process went beyond visioning to identify both the specific challenges that have constrained membership and annual fund growth for the past ten years as well as the strategies to position Riveredge as a leader, not only, in Wisconsin, but in the region. <br/> <br/>In 2014, the Riveredge Board and Staff leadership created an audacious goal: Riveredge will become the Midwest's leading destination for learning, discovering, and experiencing the interconnections between nature and society. We will do this through creating partnerships which transform the culture of our formal education systems, communities, and lifestyles.<br/> <br/>This plan is built on the following simultaneous strategies: <br/>1. A three-year investment, by Riveredge, in additional staff whose positions are directly tied to revenue growth and participation increases;<br/>2. Collaborative partnerships that 'bring' the outdoors to schools, families, and neighborhoods;<br/>3. New one-of-a-kind programs to increase revenue and attract new members;<br/>4. Aggressive marketing and membership drives (including the social media plan that we briefly discussed); and<br/>5. Staggered three-year annual fund pledges to bolster the annual fund while new member programs gain traction.<br/> <br/>Taking risks and building partnerships are at the heart of all bold endeavors. <br/>As you are well aware and have shared with me, the founders of Riveredge took a risk. You were part of that giant leap of faith. The results of that leap—that calculated risk—can be viewed in the faces of countless children peering into the waters of the Milwaukee River; they can be heard in the songs of the Spring Peepers calling on an early spring evening; and they can be felt in the tickling of the prairie grasses as you walk along the trails. It takes risk to make something great, and it takes risk to be a leader. The founders and leaders of the past did not encumber these risks to allow Riveredge to be a nice nature center in Ozaukee County. They took these risks so that Riveredge would be the leader in the field of environmental education, land preservation and restoration.<br/><br/>Over the past four decades, their efforts have built up a $3 million endowment and $3 million board discretionary (non-endowed) fund. This base of financial support provides Riveredge with the capability to regain its leadership position.

Tracking progress toward our goals is a critical component of our growth initiative. Through quarterly bench marking, we are document impacts toward the following three year goals:<br/>1. Achieving regional impact on the environment and education<br/>2. Achieving financial sustainability (increasing earned revenue streams and decreasing dependence on endowments and discretionary accounts)<br/>3. Doubling membership<br/>4. Doubling participation

In the past year, our contributors have helped us: <br/>o Partner with the White House and their 'Every Kid in a Park' Campaign by providing free one-year all-access family memberships to fourth graders in Southeast Wisconsin.<br/><br/>o Place a Riveredge scientist-in-residence in the West Bend School District four days each week to help teachers integrate schools' outdoor spaces into the curriculum.<br/><br/>o Launch our first Family Nature Club which is hosting adventures in nature throughout Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Washington Counties. <br/><br/>o Release our tenth batch of young Lake Sturgeon as part of a 25 year research project to restore a breeding population of Lake Sturgeon to the Milwaukee River. This year's Sturgeon Fest boasted over 2,300 visitors and included a presentation from Dr. Scott Sampson, Paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and host of PBS Kids' TV show Dinosaur Train!<br/><br/>In the upcoming year, we will:<br/>• Greatly expand our internships & fellowship program as a way to inspire and train the next generation of environmental scientists, educators, and nonprofit leaders through in-depth and extensive experiences on the ground at Riveredge.<br/>• Partner with a second local school district to help transform their culture of learning through the Riveredge Naturalist-in-Residence program.<br/>• Begin a partnership with the Kettle Moraine YMCA to bring a nature-based 4K program to the local community. <br/>• Partner with UW-Milwaukee's Center for Urban Initiatives & Research to plan and conduct a thorough evaluation of school student's learning outcomes while at Riveredge which will be made available and replicable by nature centers throughout Wisconsin.

Financials

Riveredge Nature Center, Inc.
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Operations

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

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Riveredge Nature Center, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 3/24/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mrs. Elizabeth La

West Bend School District

Term: 2020 - 2022

Ted Neitzke

CESA 6

Jennifer Clearwater

Discovery World

Nancy Groethe

Community Volunteer

Dan Lyons

Retired Business Owner

David McKinney

The New Teacher Project

Kim Pemble

Health Information Consulting

Cate Tinker

Bookworm Gardens

Todd Bugnacki

Cedarburg School District

Daniel Dedrick

Community Volunteer

Timothy Ehlinger

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

Michael Faley

West Bend Mutual

Thomas Jansen

We Energies

Jeremy Lambie

JL Business Interiors

Libby Larsen

SEWRPC

Gaurie Rodman

Direct Supply Company

Shashank Varma

Kohler Company

Dawn Wagner

Community Volunteer

Becky Wollner

Spaulding Clinical Research

Dan Davis

CG Schmidt

Bridget Pankonin

Charter Steel

Liz Stueck-Mullane

We Energies

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

Keywords

education, preservation, research, sustainability