The Nurture Nature Center (NNC) is a science-based organization that combines science, art, and community dialogue to get people talking and thinking critically about environmental issues in their communities. NNC, which has been doing community programming since 2008, opened its science theater to the public in November of 2011. The opening coincided with a major building renovation and the installation of its premiere exhibit, Science on a Sphere®, a giant animated globe that displays earth and planetary science on a spherical screen. NNC received its SOS® through a competitive grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In keeping with its mission, NNC currently hosts 1) monthly film screenings, Family Saturdays, and brown bag lunch series; 2) weekly programming on its Science on a Sphere exhibit; 3) quarterly artist receptions in its gallery space; and 4) community events with other area non-profits.
Founded in 2007 after three major floods occurred in 2004-06 in the Delaware River Basin, the Nurture Nature Center (NNC) was established in Easton, PA, by the Nurture Nature Foundation (NNF), based in NYC. The NNF was founded by the acclaimed labor negotiator, Theodore Kheel, to help municipalities resolve the often conflicting but equally important goals of environmental sustainability and economic growth.
Since 2007, NNC has been working to develop a blend of informal science and public hazards education programs that take into account the needs of diverse constituents — citizens, city planners, businesses and industry, utility managers, first responders, municipal officials, and regional legislators. In 2008, NNC partnered with NOAA, the National Weather Service (NWS), and the Mid-Atlantic River Forecast Center to develop a flood hazards awareness campaign that focused on increasing the use of flood warning and forecast tools by flood-prone communities basin-wide. The campaign, whose primary message was “Floods happen. Lessen the Loss,” won three awards and produced the website http://focusonfloods.org, an animated film on flood readiness, a four-part radio series, and flood level warning magnets for households that are now being nationally disseminated through NWS offices and NNC. In addition to its work with NOAA, NNC received a National Science Foundation grant to use community dialogue events to teach about flooding in the Lehigh Valley. NNC has now expanded its mission and programming through the opening of its science-based education center at 518 Northampton Street in downtown Easton.
Rachel Hogan Carr, Director of Environmental Outreach for Nurture Nature Foundation and Director of the Nurture Nature Center, is in charge of programming and facilities for the Nurture Nature Center. She has a diverse background in community development, that includes community organizing as well as assisting with adaptive re-use of historic buildings. Ms. Carr is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Environmental Policy Design at Lehigh University. She is a member of the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center’s Customer Advisory Board, the Board of Directors for the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Inc., and a former member of the Easton Environmental Advisory Council. She has been active in Easton civic initiatives, including as a co-founder of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, and as Vice President of the City’s Home Rule Charter Study Commission.
Kate Brandes, P.G., C.F.M., Senior Scientist, is a licensed professional geologist and certified floodplain manager. Ms. Brandes worked for six years as a hydrogeologist for an environmental consulting firm specializing in groundwater resources and also has six additional years of experience working with local government officials and non-profit organizations on water resource issues and education. Recently, she was the Watershed Specialist for Northampton County, PA and is a past President of the Bushkill Stream Conservancy, and she also served as a member of the Easton Environmental Advisory Council.
Keri Maxfield, Art Director, has been working in the visual arts for over 25 years. She received her BFA with a double concentration in Studio Art from Kutztown University. Ms. Maxfield served as Art Director for a national non-profit association for 8 years before beginning her own graphic design business with a focus on environmental issues. For the past 10 years, she has been working locally to protect the area’s natural and historic resources. Ms. Maxfield is the President of the Saucon Creek Watershed Association and serves on several regional committees that promote sustainable practices.
Gabby Salazar, Project Manager, has a B.A. in Science and Technology Studies from Brown University, with a concentration on the public understanding of science. In 2010, Ms. Salazar received a Fulbright Scholarship to document community conservation efforts in Peru. With 12 years of photography and editorial experience, she is also media specialist with expertise in photography and multimedia production. Ms. Salazar’s work has focused on facilitating public engagement with environmental issues and scientific information through photography and other multimedia platforms.