Pringle Nature Center in Bristol has a new naturalist who is excited to advance the mission of providing a place for people of all ages to experience nature, learn about the environment and become better stewards through conservation efforts.
Liz Alvey, 29, who started March 12, said she hopes to increase the number of visitors and expand programming to underserved age groups at Pringle, located within the 197-acre Bristol Woods County Park.
“It’s a huge wood, and it’s mostly very wild,” Alvey said. “I’d like to see more people just getting out, using the trails. It’s just really an interesting place. Besides the oak savannah and forest, there is prairie and wetlands.”
She brings with her a memory of visiting Pringle as a child, a vision for its future, and an environmental education degree.
Alvey, who grew up in Libertyville, Ill., earned a bachelor’s degree in ethnobotany at Ripon College, a graduate degree in environmental science from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa., and is working on her doctorate degree.
She said, as she explored environmental science, she found herself gravitating toward projects involving people interacting with their environment.
“That’s something really interesting to me and something I’m passionate about,” Alvey said. “This is totally a dream job for me.”
Alvey previously worked at the Academy of Natural Sciences and a nature center in Schaumburg, Ill., where she said she most enjoyed working with kids and families.
“Pringle Nature Center is in a really good position to expand in a lot of areas,” Alvey said.
She said she hopes the addition of Boundless Adventures, an aerial high-ropes course set to open this spring in Bristol Woods, will bring more people to the nature center, 9800 160th Avenue.
“I think the partnership with Boundless Adventures in being approached very thoughtfully, and I think it will bring more people out to the park, which is great,” Alvey said.
She said they will collaborate to offer some cross programming and environmental education will be part of the high-ropes experience.
“I’m looking forward to seeing people come out and make a day of it,” she said. “Do the ropes course. Visit the nature center. Have a picnic. Go on the trails.”
The 3,000-square-foot nature center was constructed in 1998 with seed funds given to Kenosha County by Robert Pringle Sr.’s sister, Fanny Pringle.
“I think, if people are new to the area, they don’t always know we are here, but it is a wonderful place,” Alvey said.
She said she would like to explore business partnerships and research collaborations with the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Carthage College.
“We have this great resource here, and it’s really only being utilized from a recreation standpoint,” Alvey said. “I’d like to see more of a science program taking off here.”
She would also like to increase programming for teens and young adults.
“We don’t have as many programs that involve high school and college age students,” she said. “That is something I’d like to explore — to make this more available for their use.”
Alvey said she also hopes to establish some corporate partners, increase the opportunities available to members of the Friends of Pringle Nature Center, and connect volunteers with projects at the nature center.