Written by Lena Verkuilen, outgoing Board President, September 2023

September has always been a time of endings and new beginnings for me. As a child, it was time to say farewell to summer, get new school supplies, start classes and reconnect with friends that I missed over the summer. As an adult working in environmental education, it was a time to put away the summer camp items, rest up and get field trips scheduled. This September is also a time of endings and new beginnings.

I have served on the board of directors of Nature At The Confluence since it began as an organization. I have seen the space grow from a building on a neglected piece of land into a community meeting place. The prairie has grown, trails have been cut and established, and Nature At The Confluence has become a place where people from South Beloit, Beloit and throughout the region seek out programs and a place to find connections with nature. 

As I step down from my role as President of the Board of Directors, I hand the reins over to Andre De Kok and a wonderful group of board members to help guide the organization. Julie is an amazing Executive Director, and I am pleased that her time at the Association of Nature Center Administrators annual summit has brought her back energized and full of new ideas. I am stepping back from my role, but not from my love of nature and learning. I look forward to being a participant in the programs, and enjoying the beauty and peace of the property in the prairie, woods, and along the waterways that continue to bring people together at this space as they have done for generations before. 

Many thanks to all of you who have volunteered, participated in programs, walked the trails and have made this space a place in your community and hearts. In our fast-paced world we will always need spaces like Nature At The Confluence to slow down, and connect with nature and each other.