Nurture Nature Center: 2020 Year in Review

With the closing of our facility to the public in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nurture Nature Center staff had to shift not only how we deliver our educational programs, but also our thinking about the kinds of information and programming that communities need locally and globally. With quick-thinking and many adjustments, the staff created a brand new range of virtual art, science and dialogue programming that reached an audience of 4,000 people, including new audiences we would never have reached with in-person programming. As the unpredictable and challenging year that was 2020 comes to a close, we took some time to reflect on all that our staff and community partners were still able to accomplish. Below is a list of some of our highlights from this year.

Science Programming and Education

Community and Resilience

  • Published a set of informational hazard cards for our CREATE Resilience project thanks to

    Results of the CREATE Resilience Community Mapping activity

    the efforts of our 14 high school CREATE Youth Ambassadors

  • Learned about mitigation strategies and methods for building community resilience through the work of our ambassadors, a virtual community forum and mapping activity, a resilience tour highlighting success stories throughout the region, and interviews with community leaders for our CREATE Resilience project
  • Continued the efforts of our Buy Fresh Buy Local program to improve access to locally grown fresh produce throughout the Lehigh Valley
  • Helped develop the stakeholder engagement plan for the City of Bethlehem’s climate action planning process, implementing a variety of engagement strategies to gather input for the plan (a draft of the plan is now publicly available)
  • Worked with the City of Easton and a student at Muhlenberg College to develop an updated greenhouse gas inventory that will lead into the development of a climate action plan in spring of 2021 (part of the PA DEP Local Climate Action Program)

Art Programs

  • “Finding Our Way” by artist Mary Budkoski, part of the Perspectives: Art on Environment program

    Received funding from Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and NISE Sustainability Fellowship to create three educational videos guiding viewers through the “Living Local Mural” by resident artist Tom Maxfield that is displayed in our science hall

  • Collaborated with 15 artists to create works for the sixth year of Perspectives: Art on Environment following the theme “Migrations and Hibernations.” The completed works will be installed at NNC and video-recorded for a virtual opening, performance, and open mic night this winter
  • Mailed out kits and collected over 3,000 paper monarch butterflies for a community outreach project that brought a much needed feeling of connection in the early days of the pandemic
  • Created 2 virtual art gallery tours to extend the impact of two art shows that opened at our center just before we had to close – Claire McConaughy’s “Velvet Woods” and Jackie Lima’s “Infamous Oculus”
  • Partnered with the Easton Hunger Coalition to guide high school students in creating artwork in support of “20/20 Vision: Eyes on Hunger”

Left: Monarch butterfly cutouts returned from community members in spring 2020. Right: Student art from 20/20 Vision: Eyes on Hunger

Other Accomplishments

  • Issued a report of findings from a national social science research study we completed about National Weather Service’s Hydrologic Ensemble Forecast System
  • Began work on a new social science research group studying the Weather Prediction Center’s Winter Storm Severity Index (WSSI) product in six Weather Forecast Offices around the country
  • Prepared our Urban Garden space (which received certification as a “Little Free Garden”) for an exciting update to improve stormwater management and offer informational signage about best practices.
  • Expanded our use of social media to reach different groups of people and continue to stay connected to our community throughout the closure of our physical center
  • Shared blog posts on a variety of topics, including 16 Spotlight on Community blog posts highlighting the good work that is being done by many organizations and individuals across the Lehigh Valley to make our communities more sustainable
  • Published an article about our work on a previous NASA grant, “6 Degrees of Connection,” in a peer-reviewed journal
  • Presented about our work at a variety of conferences and webinars, sharing our insights and bringing new ideas back as our efforts continue to evolve


All of us at NNC are very grateful to have been able to continue this work in the past year, and look forward to what is to come. Thanks to all of our partners, funders, and anyone who has taken part in any of our programming. We wish you all a very happy and healthy new year!