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NatureBridge Continues to Build Dynamic Management Team

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avatar NatureBridge Continues to Build Dynamic Management Team
October 19, 2011 01:00PM
NatureBridge Continues to Build Dynamic Management Team
Date: October 18, 2011

Environmental Education Leader Names New Director of Yosemite National Park and Vice President of Operations

NatureBridge, the largest non-profit residential environmental education partner of the National Park Service, is pleased to name Kristina Rylands as the new NatureBridge director in Yosemite National Park. Additionally, after more than 20 years as a member of the NatureBridge family, the former Director, Leigh Westerlund, branches into a new role as vice president of operations.

"Leigh and Kristina have a genuine passion for NatureBridge that is invaluable during this exciting time of growth for us," said Susan Smartt, president and CEO at NatureBridge. "It's humbling to also see one of our own inspired alumni return after an amazing career with the National Park Service, with a strong desire to inspire a new generation among educators, staff, students, teachers, parents, and partners."

Inspired by her high school experiences with NatureBridge programs, Kristina Rylands fulfills a life-long dream and returns to the organization as director for the Yosemite National Park campus. Previously, Rylands served as the Interdisciplinary Project Manager and Outdoor Recreation Planner for the National Park Service in Yosemite National Park. She shepherded the Tuolumne River Plan and provided high level leadership with the National Park Service and Interagency Wild and Scenic Rivers Coordinating Council. In her new role at NatureBridge, she will strive to maintain and expand the high quality education programs and foster community and partner relationships. She will also work closely with the Yosemite-based Board of Directors and the NatureBridge national office to build on the organization's 40 year history of success in Yosemite and increase the diversity of the student populations served, educators and staff.

"Kristina has been a tremendous asset to Yosemite National Park, providing significant management and oversight on numerous park planning efforts," stated Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher. "We look forward to working with her in her new capacity at NatureBridge, one of our environmental education partners, where she'll certainly utilize her talents and enthusiasm to educate and inspire children here in the park."

Westerlund's new position as Vice President of Operations will allow her to take her 20 years of experience and implement best practices and insure continued program quality across all the NatureBridge National Park locations in Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Olympic National Park, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and Channel Islands National Park.

Celebrating its 40th year, NatureBridge believes that environmental education should be a part of every child's experience. The organization is dedicated to providing education programs that inspire environmental literacy and stewardship, as well as build personal connections to the natural world. Each year NatureBridge brings approximately 30,000 students from 600 schools to participate in its three- to five-day field science programs in Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Olympic National Park, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and Channel Islands National Park. Please visit NatureBridge for more information and find out how to support its mission.
avatar Re: NatureBridge Continues to Build Dynamic Management Team
October 19, 2011 07:05PM
In which year did the Yosemite National Institutes (YNI) change its name to NatureBridge?
Re: NatureBridge Continues to Build Dynamic Management Team
October 19, 2011 08:11PM
While NatureBridge touts their educational programs and their non profit status, there is one thing that is seldom mentioned. They are mainly a educational program but they also offer at least one of their campuses to be used for other purposes. I found this on Olympic National Park's website:

Olympic Park Institute's setting by Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park provides an ideal atmosphere for successful seminars, retreats, conferences, and weddings.

Our indoor meeting spaces include Rosemary Inn, a national historic landmark crafted in the early 1900s, and a state of the art Storm King Hall. The rustic Rosemary Inn houses the dining hall, intimate fireplace alcove, natural science lab, and the Cedar Room (with a capacity of 100). Looking out to the rainforest, Storm King Hall has excellent acoustics and can be divided into three rooms allowing multiple groups to use the space simultaneously.

Coffee and tea, hors d'oeuvres, snacks and beverages can be provided for meetings in these spaces. The following audio-visual tools are also available in our meeting rooms:

High-speed wireless internet
Conferencing phone
LCD projector
Projector screens
Computers (PC)

Our campus features several outdoor gathering spots, including:

A covered gazebo
A lakeside shelter with a stone fireplace
A campfire amphitheater

To learn more about our facilities, rates, and availability, or to schedule a tour of the campus, please submit our event scheduling form or contact Gillian Hagamen, Sales and Marketing Director, at 206.382.6212 ext 13 or by email at ghagamen@naturebridge.org.



Many people, including myself, feel that this is an improper use of a facility inside a national park. Where does the profit for these events go to and are they used to support their educational programs? Is this how the Yosemite Institute's new facility at Henness Ridge is going to be used? It is one thing to have meetings and weddings in the facilities that are in the hotels in Yosemite because those activities are not unusual for hotels to do. But it is alright to rent out facilities that supposed to be used for the educational programs in national parks as a venue for private parties? This is a service that hotels should do not, educational institutes.
Re: NatureBridge Continues to Build Dynamic Management Team
October 21, 2011 02:38PM
As long as the events do not have priority over the educational operations I don't see the issue. The money is going to Nature Bridge which will support the program in general. I would much rather have the money go to them instead of some corporate company that is running the hotels or other facilities in the park.
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