Land Acknowledgment

The Kalamazoo Nature Center holds responsibility for over 1,500 acres of land. These properties embody a history of deep historical injustices that have produced inequity in access to nature that continues today. KNC occupies the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary lands of the first peoples, the Anishinaabek. Also known as the Council of the Three Fires, the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Bodewadmi people ceded land in the 1821 Treaty of Chicago and lost lands through forced removal in 1833. Additionally, we acknowledge the complex racial inequity contributing to steep disparities in land access and ownership for Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities. This gives weight to KNC’s charge to our community. We are committed to becoming a KNC led by and in service to all of our community and to honoring our complex history in all we do. We are committed to healing these relationships between people and land in our work.

KNC Policy to Promote Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

The Kalamazoo Nature Center is an equal opportunity organization that will not discriminate in its programs or hiring practices on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, age, ethnicity, national origin, culture, physical or mental ability, veteran status, height, weight, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or political affiliation.

In addition, we recognize that institutional bias (implicit and explicit) in our organization, in our society and throughout the nature center/outdoor industry results in inequitable access to employment, recreation, education and other activities in the pursuit of our mission.

Therefore, relying on current research and best-practices, we adopt the following goals to create an equitable an inclusive organization, and to further equity work in Kalamazoo:


• KNC will ensure that its board of directors, staff, volunteers, visitors, participants, membership and all others involved with the organization reflect the diversity of the community we serve.

• KNC will work consistently to create an inclusive culture & promote equitable access to our facilities, programs, jobs and other opportunities, by actively inviting, engaging and collaborating with people from all walks of life.

• KNC will ensure that our interpretive facilities and programs reflect the many different historical, cultural and spiritual stories that have influenced and will continue to shape our connection to the natural world, KNC will celebrate and recognize the unique contributions of all people, and provide opportunities for shared learning, growth and understanding, Our programmatic outcomes will reflect our commitment to justice and equity.

• KNC will protect and celebrate natural and cultural resources that tell our complex history and that help us learn from our past, honor our ancestors and promote a more sustainable future.

• KNC will establish measurable benchmarks that accurately reflect our commitment to equity and inclusion. We will provide our board of trustees, our members and our community with regular reports of our progress toward these goals.

This policy was drafted with help from three important sources:

The Green 2.0 report on The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations prepared by Dorceta Taylor, Ph.D. and published in July 2014.

The Next 100 Coalition of civil rights, environmental justice, conservation and community organizations advocating for greater inclusion of diverse communities in our country’s national parks and other public lands.

The Sierra Club’s Equity and Inclusion Plan adopted in 2015 by Sierra club president Aaron Mair Prepared by Sierra Club director of Equity and inclusion, Nellis Kennedy-Howard

KNC Statement on Racism (dated 6/17/2020)

The Kalamazoo Nature Center joins our community and nation in expressing its steadfast resolve in righting the wrongs that were laid bare by the racist killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks. Their loss is the latest chapter in a painful history that stretches across 400 years of slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, redlining, racial profiling, police brutality, and more. It is perpetuated with racist provocations such as the recent one against Christian Cooper, a Black man whose only “crime” was to go bird watching in New York’s Central Park.

First, we believe it’s crucial to acknowledge our own indifference. When it comes to being, or even working to become an equitable institution, KNC has largely failed. Compared to many of our peers in this community, we are behind in this work. KNC has been a white-dominated space since its founding and we recognize that it remains an overwhelmingly white organization in terms of its leadership, staff and membership.

By now, you may have read dozens of statements such as this one. Many have voiced their solidarity in the fight against individual and institutional racism. It is good and necessary that they publicly do so. Similarly, this pivotal moment has led KNC to consider how it can best support this essential movement for societal change.

Since its inception, KNC has been a force for conservation, education and stewardship. Nationwide, we are known as a leader and innovator. But as a model for our sector, we also have a great responsibility to lead in the area of racial equity. At times, we know that our lack of humility, ignorance of internal racist systems, and failure to change have created an environment where Black people, including our own staff, have been made to feel unwelcome and have suffered varying levels of harm. For this we are profoundly sorry. We own any past mistakes, and more importantly, will actively work to identify and eliminate racism from our organization.

Yet apologies and platitudes are deeply insufficient. Instead, we now commit ourselves to systemic changes that will make KNC a safe place for Black people. To that end, we will work to dismantle every part of KNC that makes Whiteness the assumed norm or dominant culture; we commit ourselves to a journey of anti-racism that will result in making KNC a place for all Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). With that in mind, we will undertake these actions:

  • We commit to long term, in-depth Equity and Inclusion training and will institutionalize this training for current and future staff: We are pursuing funding for this work and expect to begin training in the months ahead.
  • We will add, review and rewrite policies, procedures, programs, and narratives to change internal systemic issues that support racism in our institution.
  • We will establish and maintain Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) leadership on our board of directors, executive team and staff. Where this does not currently exist, we will establish pathways for communication and BIPOC-led decision making and advising concerning our mission to connect people and nature.

Some may say that anti-racist work strays from our mission, but we strongly believe otherwise. KNC exists to connect people with nature and to inspire them to care for our environment. We know that everyone can benefit from the life-giving force of nature in their lives; it is our human birthright. We also know that everyone — especially children whose physical and mental wellbeing suffers from the toxic effects of racism — need the wonder and healing that only nature can provide. Knowing that, why wait any longer to pursue the changes we describe here? The time for incrementalism and half-measures is past. We cannot offer our best to some unless we can equitably offer our best to all.