Fall on Beech Maple Trail

The Kalamazoo Nature Center is a not-for-profit organization located in Kalamazoo, Michigan whose mission is to inspire people to care for the environment by providing experiences that lead them to understand their connection to the natural world.

School group walking over bridge circa 1960sA Brief History of KNC

Certain places have a magic that draws people to them. Cooper’s Glen, one of the best-loved spots in Kalamazoo County, has possessed this power for centuries.  There is evidence that Native Americans camped near the glen prior to European settlement.  Some of Cooper Township’s first European residents lived close to the glen, building their homes in the clearings made famous by James Fenimore Cooper in his book “The Oak Openings”.   Later families and friends traveled out from Kalamazoo by dirt road, by boat along the Kalamazoo River or on the interurban railway to picnic.   Families went for picnics, biology students for field study, amateur and professional ornithologists to observe and enjoy varied bird life, photographers to capture images, and botanists to study and enjoy the varied wildflowers and other plant life.”  (from  Glimpsing the Whole, the Kalamazoo Nature Center Story, 1995) In the late 1950’s gravel mining and commercialism threatened Cooper’s Glen, so a group of community leaders came together to purchase the land and establish an outdoor environmental education center that would become known as the Kalamazoo Nature Center—one of the first nature centers in the country.

Dr. H. Lewis Batts, Jr. was a nationally known environmentalist at the time and the driving force behind the purchase of Cooper’s Glen and the incorporation of the Kalamazoo Nature Center in 1960.  Dr. Batts continued to serve as the center’s volunteer Executive Director until his retirement in 1989 when Dr. Willard M. Rose was hired to lead the organization into the future.

Today The Kalamazoo Nature Center, recognized by its peers as one of the top nature centers in the country, has expanded to include 1,100 acres of wooded, rolling countryside five miles north of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Annual Reports

2017 Annual Report   | 2016 Annual Report  |  2015 Annual Report  |  2014 Annual Report 2013 Annual Report  |  2012 Annual Report

KNC Board & President

Willard M. Rose, Ph.D - President & CEO

Bill Rose has been President and CEO of the Kalamazoo Nature Center since 1988 and is only the second person to hold this leadership position after founder H. Lewis Batts, Jr.

2016-17 Board of Trustees

Chair:  Binney Girdler
Immediate Past Chair:  Becky Fulgoni
Chair Elect:  Sandy Standish
Secretary: Steve Rypma
Treasurer:  Robert Loftus
Jomie Goerge
Shawn Hagen
Jim Justice
Kit Kittredge
Sandy Lipsey
Lucas Mansberger
Jon Durham
Regena Nelson
Bill Rose
Steven Rypma
Lynn Spurr

Kalamazoo Nature Center 50th Anniversary Video

Golden Past - Green Future

This video was created for the Kalamazoo Nature Center in celebration of its 50th Anniversary. Enjoy a look at the past five decades through interviews with past and present staff and board members, archival photos, and a look at today's Kalamazoo Nature Center.