Coyote Trails will continue mission of struggling Medford organization
Bodhi Weir, left, and Kai Fix play a game called “screaming cheetah” Friday afternoon at Coyote Trails Jefferson Nature Center in Medford. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore
November 5, 2011
for the Mail Tribune
Coyote Trails School of Nature has taken over operation of the financially struggling Jefferson Nature Center in Medford and will continue the center's classes and field trips with low-income schools, while adding many new classes for all ages.
JNC has seen corporate and foundation funding wither during the recession, but has managed to stay out of the red, said outgoing director Susan Cross, adding that she is confident the well-established Coyote Trails, located in the Cascade foothills on Dead Indian Memorial Road, will bring "the energy and capability to make it grow."
Located on the Bear Creek Greenway corridor near the US Cellular Community Park ballfields, the 7-acre Jefferson Nature Center was started in 2004 on land owned by the city of Medford, mainly to provide nature education for Title I schools that lack funds for it. It serves 1,200 school children each year in Medford, Phoenix and Talent.
Its $80,000 to $100,000 budget came chiefly from grants from Carpenter, Meier, Cow Creek and Anna Mae Family foundations, as well as regional fundraising — and made some earnings with contract work, said Cross.
"It's been a hard economy, especially right after 2008. I've been working on organizational development and looking for ways to keep the center intact," said Cross. "I looked for a partner with the same mission, and Coyote Trails had that. They're positioned in the community, with fee-based classes ... that broaden the base of who might support the center."
The newly renamed Coyote Trails' Jefferson Nature Center, which will focus on an underserved 6-and-younger age group, began classes Friday with animal tracking, fire-making, awareness games and salmon spotting.
The center will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, with activities for kids and adults. There will be refreshments, "coyote coffee" (organic), live music and nature-related games, said Joe Kreuzman, director of the 10-year-old Coyote Trails and new director of the combined center.