The Indian Creek Nature Center is seeking a new executive director of operations.
Rich Patterson, who has headed up the center for the last 35 years, is moving into a new role, executive director of development.
The move has been contemplated for some time, and Patterson, 63, on Wednesday said his new post will give him time to focus on fundraising for the Nature Center and on building its endowment rather than on the day-to-day operations.
"This change will help the Nature Center move into the future, and I fully support it," he said.
The plan is to have a new executive director of operations in place by spring or summer, he said.
The center is beginning a multimillion-dollar capital campaign, money from which will allow the center to build a new center building and to bolster endowment funds to help cover the center’s operating costs. The old barn, in which the center is now located, will remain and continue to be used, perhaps as a trail center, Patterson said.
The Nature Center, which opened 40 years ago this month and leases the barn and some of its land from the city for $1 a year, was leasing 110 acres from the city and owned no land when Patterson arrived in 1978. Today, the center owns 129 acres and leases 169 acres from the city.
The center’ staff now numbers 12, up from four when Patterson arrived.
"Since 1978, Rich has expanded program offerings and acres of land restored, all while being on the leading edge of ecological implementation," Don Johnson, president of the center’s board of directors, said Wednesday. "We are who we are today, in large part, because of his vision and leadership."
The Nature Center is Iowa’s first nature center and remains the only one that is not run by government. The center hosts more than 40,000 visitors a year.