Vieth is new executive director at Carpenter Nature Center
The Carpenter Nature Center in Hastings has a new executive director. Jen Vieth was the unanimous choice of the three committees tasked with hiring a new leader for the non-profit center.
The position became available earlier this year when Jim Fitzpatrick decided to retire after serving as the director for the past 32 years. Vieth is just the second executive director at the center.
A comprehensive search began when Fitzpatrick announced his retirement in late 2012. Vieth has been acting as the interim director since January.
"She was clearly the top candidate," Carpenter board member Don Kern said. "The board is extremely excited."
Vieth officially begins the new role on April 1.
Fitzpatrick is happy to see the center now in the care of Vieth's
"She's the best choice," he said. "This will be a good move going forward."
Vieth has worked at the nature center as its development director for the past seven years. Prior to that experience she worked for the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota and at the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis, Mo.
Vieth speaks with pride over the center's past accomplishments and the positive impact CNC has on area school children.
"We're looking forward to continuing to improve and expand the nature experience for our communities' children." As an example she highlighted CNC's new 'Earth Day Birding Festival" on April 20, during which partnerships with many local organizations, including the energetic team at Hastings Environmental Protectors, make it possible to bring local
birding experts together for a family birding day that will include Birding 101, a bird of prey program, a youth birding competition and field trips around the Hastings area.
While Vieth has been out in the communities talking with people about supporting the nature center, she often hears first-hand the impact that the center has had.
While in Stillwater recently, she entered a business where two women in their early 20s were working. Vieth introduced herself and the two lit up, telling her they remembered the field trips they had taken there as students.
"It's hard to not get excited about Carpenter Nature Center
when you hear stories like that," she said.
Vieth is now one of six staff members at the center. The rest of the work is done by 166 volunteers who logged 9,000 hours of volunteer time in 2012.
"They are all amazing people," she said. "I'm humbled every day."
The support of the current staff, the volunteers and the donors
made the job appealing to Vieth.
"It's not a one-person job," she said. "I wouldn't do it if we didn't have this team. Everyone does a phenomenal job."
Vieth is a native of Kingston, Ontario. She earned a degree in biology from Queen's University in Kingston and eventually earned a position with the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis, Mo. She worked there for 10 years.
Vieth met her husband Greg in Missouri.
He has relatives in Hastings and with the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center in St. Paul, Vieth figured it would be a good spot. They moved to Minnesota in 2002 and she began work at the Raptor Center in January 2003.
The couple lives in Hastings, where they are raising two children.
Carpenter Nature Center consists of 425 acres of land along the
St. Croix River near Hastings and Prescott, Wis.
The center is free and open to the public 361 days a year from 8
a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
There are more than 10 miles of hiking trails at the center,
including 3.5 miles of paved trails.
The center also has 300 acres of nature preserve near Hudson,
Carpenter Nature Center is a 501 C 3 organization.