The Nature Center

The Margaret Noecker Nature Center is a labor of love. Our goal is to help children through nature learning, and then share the intellectual capital with the education community.

The Parish School

The Parish School Campus on Hammerly Blvd

The Parish School (TPS) was started by Robbin Parish in 1983 to address the special needs of young children with language and learning differences. The Parish School believes that every child has unique strengths and it’s up to us to identify each child’s strengths, educate to those strengths, and empower these kids to succeed in life. When longtime Head of School, Margaret Noecker, died suddenly in April 2013, a Nature Fund was set up to memorialize her years of dedication which began the day Robbin opened the school in 1983 with 6 students. Margaret was my wife of 35 years.

The Margaret Noecker Nature Center (“The Nature Center”) was established to provide an infrastructure of people and processes to oversee the expenditure of money in the Nature Fund, referee project concepts, request proposals, and make recommendations to the Board for expenditures. The Nature Center was launched in the Fall ’13 school year, had its first meeting in September, and by Spring of ’14 had evaluated dozens of projects and recommended 10 for funding.

My assistance on this project began with conceiving the Nature Fund and developing a vision for The Nature Center including: “The Guiding Principles,” design of The Nature Center Council, and creation of the business processes for Concept and Proposal Evaluation. Today, I serve on the Council as Founder.

Strategic Development – May 2014
Following 6 months of evaluation we identified a strategic partner for The Nature Center. In May we completed negotiations with the Natural Learning Initiative, a unit of  The College of Design at NC State University. Work begins in June. NLI will assist The Parish School in creating a Master Site Plan and Strategic Frameworks for nature learning. Going forward, we’ll be exploring joint research efforts with NLI to document the effects and progress of this new initiative at Parish and share that back to the education community. This is an exciting time for The Nature Center and an attractive opportunity for The Parish School to advance its mission of empowering the whole child.

The most interesting aspect of working with The Parish School is how gratifying it is. I hope I will always be a contributor to this great adventure.

Word play in the outdoor classroom

In an outdoor classroom at The Parish School