The Mountain-Ear is located at:
20 E. Lakeview Drive, Unit 109 (inside Brightwood Music).
Our mailing address is PO Box 99, Nederland, CO 80466.

Phone: (303) 810-5409
Email: info@themountainear.com
Website: www.themtnear.com

Wild Bear Nature Center: In learning lies our futureFree Access



 

It’s hard to imagine a time when Nederland didn’t have the Wild Bear Nature Center (WBNC). Just over 27 years ago, public school teacher and lifelong naturalist Jill Dreves, inspired by growing up in the remote mountain wilderness and driven by a deep-seated belief in learning, started the organization as a source of all-ages, year-round community education.

Kat Barr, WBNC’s Development Director, tells us that “Today, Wild Bear Nature Center is the only nonprofit, all-ages nature center open year-round in Boulder County. Located in downtown Nederland and open 360 days a year, the nature center is always free, meaning anyone and everyone can come by to learn more about mountain ecology, local trails and wildlife, and upcoming programs. Last year, more than 18,000 people visited the nature center.

“Wild Bear is known in the community and along the Front Range as a go-to source of quality outdoor adventures, science-based nature education, and nature-centered child care – just last year, WBNC engaged more than 2000 children, 49% of whom participated thanks to scholarships. In addition, Wild Bear’s adult and all-ages programming is growing…. Just recently, a timely joint WBNCColorado Parks and Wildlife workshop on living in mountain lion country engaged hundreds of participants.

Barr goes on to point out that right now, nature is at risk: the climate crisis, ongoing extinctions, shrinking wilderness – all indicate a great need for “nature education, connection, and stewardship,” as Barr puts it. She adds that “Humans, on the other hand, are increasingly disconnected from nature – the average child in the U.S., for example, spends just seven minutes a day playing outside but over seven hours on a screen. Study after study has shown that a lack of outdoor activity contributes to anxiety, depression, and other health problems.”

Wild Bear sees itself as responding to these needs. In addition to the free nature center in downtown Nederland, WBNC offers numerous programs. One of the liveliest is the Enchanted Forest, which Barr calls “Wild Bear’s signature community event.” It involves many local volunteers and provides a day of “magical nature experiences,” including costumed forest creatures, fairy habitats, music, and crafts, as well as exciting live animal “ambassadors,” including raptors and snakes (with their handlers, of course).

Other events include Wild Earth Week, the Backcountry Film Festival, and the Nederland Spring Thaw Cleanup. There are adult wilderness adventures and educational programs such as Wilderness Survival Skills and Wilderness First Aid. Adventure programs have included High Altitude Herb Walk with Bridget Mars and the Outdoors and Proud nature walk with LGBTQ+ naturalists, among others.

In addition, in 2021, Wild Bear opened the Eco Arts Lounge, which hosts local artists for regular workshops and community events, such as Recycled Art Contest, Botanical Illustration Workshops, and Wildlife Drawing Workshop.

Barr proudly notes that “WBNC is also the only licensed school-aged child care open year-round in Nederland. This past year, more than 2000 children participated in Wild Bear’s programs, including many through sliding scale scholarships. WBNC’s ability to provide nature education to anyone, regardless of income, is core to the organization’s mission and a significant resource to the community.”

Serving the entire Peak to Peak region, WBNC boasts seven year-round employees, and additional seasonal or program-specific staff. Barr adds, “We’re hiring right now as well – more information is on our website.” And the organization is still growing: “In addition, WBNC is proud to have partnered with Boulder

County to preserve Mud Lake Open Space – now one of the healthiest wetland habitats in Boulder County.

“In 2000, WBNC volunteers helped remove nearly 30 tons of trash from the property. Wild Bear’s own adjacent five acres, at the gateway to nearly 3000 acres of wilderness, is also the home of our future net zero nature center.”

Barr continues, “In 2022, WBNC will break ground on the new nature center. The new facility – which will house seasonal exhibits, expanded adult and children’s programming, and connect to 16 miles of nature trails – is the culmination of a vision years in the making and driven by a team of volunteers, architects, and green energy experts. Situated along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway and on the northern edge of Nederland, the new facility will be home for community events and nature education for tens of thousands of people each year. Stay tuned for more about this exciting project!”

You will find the Wild Bear Nature Center at 20 Lakeview Drive, Unit 107, in Nederland. Their website is www.wildbear.org; email is kat@wildbear.org. You will also find WBNC on Facebook and Instagram. Their phone is 303.258.0495.

Sponsored by the Town of Nederland, with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.