Leadership Awards

The Association of Nature Center Administrators (ANCA) is the only professional association in the United States dedicated to leaders in the nature and environmental learning center profession, including directors, managers, and senior administrators. It gives two awards annually, the ANCA Nature Center Leadership Award and the ANCA Outstanding New Leader Award, and the recipients of these awards are considered to be the most accomplished or contributory to the discipline. 

The ANCA Nature Center Leadership Award recognizes an individual who in their role at the highest administrative level of an organization has made a major contribution to the success of a nature center (or centers), as well as important contributions to the profession through professional organizations (particularly ANCA), and through the support and mentoring of other nature center leaders.

The ANCA Outstanding New Leader Award recognizes an individual with the potential for future impact within the field of nature center administrators. Qualified candidates will have less than five (5) years of full-time work experience as the director, executive director, or leader at the highest administrative level at a nature or environmental learning center.

The ANCA Nature Center Leadership Awards are presented each year at the ANCA Summit. 

Award Criteria

The ANCA Leadership Awards are not intended for volunteer leaders of nature centers, such as trustees and donors, or program staff. Current ANCA Board Members are not eligible for the awards.

ANCA Nature Center Leadership Award:

Contribution to the Profession: The successful nominee contributes to the profession through participation in and volunteer service to professional organizations and to individuals working within the profession. Community engagement, civic responsibility, networking, and mentoring should encourage alegacy of strong future leaders both within the nominee's nature center or to people from other nature centers.

Contribution to the Nominee's Center: The individual should demonstrate an ability to create and implement a vision for their center and the profession, and helped to form or to grow their center significantly. Ideal nominees will lead by example, inspire others to work creatively and collaboratively, demonstrate initiative,and promote a work environment that is respectful, collegial, supportive, and diverse.

Seniority in the Profession: Ideal nominees will have demonstrated commitment and success as a leader in nature center management over a number of years. The award is intended for individuals who have made a career commitment to nature centers and contributed to the advancement of the profession.

ANCA Outstanding New Leader Award:

Leadership: The successful nominee will demonstrate organizational leadership guiding a team of staff, board, volunteers, and community stakeholders in the success of a center and potential in the assumption of leadership roles, creativity in programming, facility development, administration, and a commitment to the profession.

Professionalism: The individual earns the respect of peers, staff, and the community. They represent the field of nature center administration with professional integrity and furthers best practices in the discipline. Ideal nominees will lead by example, inspire others to work creatively and collaboratively, demonstrate initiative, and promote a work environment that is respectful, collegial, supportive, and diverse.

Professional Development: The ideal nominee demonstrates an ongoing desire for learning and self-improvement, shares their knowledge with peers, and is active in ANCA, regionally or nationally.

Creativity: The nominee applies best practices and new skills to creative problem solving within their center.

The Nomination Process

1. Complete the ANCA Intent to Nominate Form by February 28th. You will be contacted by the ANCA Executive Director with a determination of eligibility.

2. If invited, you will be sent the ANCA Leadership Nomination Form which is due no later than April 1st. In recognition of the fact that many people may be deserving of the award but only one nominee will receive it, a complete nomination will remain in consideration for two consecutive years. You will be invited to update your nomination.

Share this opportunity with your staff and board!

This is a chance to bring recognition to your center, and rally your team around accomplishments. Bo Glover, recipient of the 2018 ANCA Nature Center Leadership Award, application, was nominated by his staff and board. They recognize the collective achievement of Bo's leadership and the Environmental Nature Center:

“Bo is the heart and soul of our organization, who humbly leads knowing that his job is to serve: our community, our children and the Environmental Nature Center (ENC) staff. Orange County, California is one of the most densely populated areas in the country, and for many of the children that the ENC serves, their visits to our campus is their only experience with nature. More than 27,000 children experience Nature at the ENC annually. The testimonials from the teachers whose students attend our programs is a constant reminder of the importance of the ENC’s mission and the quality of the experiences that the ENC is providing to their students."- Dan Heinfeld, ENC Board Member. 

2019 ANCA Leadership Award Recipients

  • 2019 ANCA Nature Center Leadership Award: Ken Voorhis, Retired Chief Education and Operations Officer, Yellowstone Forever (2013-2018) & Executive Director of the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont (1984-2013)
  • 2019 ANCA Outstanding New Leader Award: Ann Wasser, Executive Director at the Severson Dells Nature Center in Rockford, Illinois

For questions please contact the ANCA Office.