Episode 57: How To Build Partnerships And Expand Your Mission With Mike Reichert From Wild Bear Nature Center

RTNP 57 | Build Partnerships


On this week’s episode, I talked with Mike Reichert, the Director of Operations at Wild Bear Nature Center in Nederland, CO.

Wild Bear Nature Center has an ambitious plan to educate people about nature by building a new facility down the street from where I live. (They’re currently running a big capital campaign to raise the necessary funds.)

They’ve been active in Nederland for over 27 years, making avid supporters out of the local community and businesses. Drawing on this history to engage partners in the area and expand their reach will be key to reaching their ambitious goals.

We discussed using those partnerships and building trust to expand their message and get more people involved and engaged.

WBNC is doing some amazing things for the local community and beyond. Check them out on this episode!


Link: https://www.wildbear.org/

Action ASK: Reduce, reuse, recycle. Pick up trash on the trails!

Listen to the podcast here:

How To Build Partnerships And Expand Your Mission With Mike Reichert From Wild Bear Nature Center

My guest on this episode is Mike Reichert and he is the Director of Operations at Wild Bear Nature Center here in Nederland, Colorado, which is down the street from me. Mike and his team are building an ambitious plan to educate and bring more people into nature. As part of that, they’re building a new nature center here in Ned. They’re doing a huge capital campaign in order to try and raise awareness and raise funds for that construction.

We talked about ways that they can expand that message and get more people on board, drive more revenue, build more relationships through leveraging partnerships. We talked about a whole bunch of other stuff that was the main thrust of our conversation. I had a great time talking with him. I think that Wild Bear Nature Center does some amazing things here for the local community and beyond. I would encourage you to check it out. I hope you enjoy the episode.

Mike, how are you doing?

I am doing excellent.

Me too. It’s a beautiful day up here in the Nederland area. I’m assuming you’re in locally.

Yes, I live in town and I also work in the town of Nederland.

Fantastic. We’ll tell us all a little bit more about Wild Bear Nature Center and what you guys are up to?

Before this show, I was helping the check-in about 40 kids for our summer camps that we run for ten weeks from the start of June 2021 until about the start of August 2021. It’s an incredible place, very happy, positive, welcoming kids into the facility and getting them out into the forest so they can explore, learn and play. That’s our whole thing.

Wild Bear was started in 1995 by Jill Dreves, the Executive Director. She also lives here locally. Prior to Wild Bear. She was an elementary school teacher, started this organization with $500 in her savings account and it’s grown year over year. Surprisingly, during the pandemic, it’s grown exponentially. We doubled our full-time staff. We’re in the design phase to build a net-zero nature center within the town of Nederland. That’ll be a destination for locals, the front range, families and tourists.

It’s going to be incredible. I was contemplating the other day that I think it’s going to be one of the sought-after destinations and all of Boulder County because geographically, we were between Estes Park, Boulder and I-70. There aren’t any learning facilities in that region. Wild Bear is open seven days a week. Aside from a few major holidays, free visitation to anyone who wants to come in. We were all about inspiring local community engagement with the environment and trying to teach people to be better stewards to the earth so that generations to come can enjoy the wilderness that we get to enjoy in Nederland and the surrounding area.

It’s a great facility. Our bread and butter, our kids’ programs and our summer camp, especially but we offer all-ages programming, which we think is unique in Boulder County. For example, we have a free bird walk for adults and families. We participated in the Nederland town cleanup and we got volunteers to walk around town, pick up trash, bring it back and care for the environment.

We’re growing our programming. Like I said, we’ve grown through the pandemic and we hired an amazing Education Director who has huge ambitions. For example, we did six separate kids’ programs throughout the day. She’s as ambitious as Jill and I are and passionate and wants to see a Wild Bear grow now so that when we “graduate to our new facility” we’re ready to go and we have robust programming and it’s full and it’s exciting. We’re getting people outdoors.

RTNP 57 | Build Partnerships
Build Partnerships: There’s a need in Nederland for artists to have a place to go and create. We love that and so we have this eco arts lounge that’s going to have pop-up galleries and weekend hours.


I’m excited to hear that you’re expanding, particularly after the challenges and being able to get people back in person and showing them all the great things that are available in terms of wildlife, exploration, and getting kids and adults out into the wilderness. We’re excited about this new center that you guys have started to develop right around the Mud Lake Area.

In fact, I’m on the board of the Nederland Area Trails Organization. We helped build some trails on that property for you guys a couple of years ago for nature walks. It’s going to be fun to see how that all comes together and how you can get that unique, exciting new facility up and running. Is that the main thrust of your outreach now, trying to fund the construction of that new facility?

Yes. It’s an amazing, incredible thing. As I said, we hired Michelle Witte from California. She’s originally from Colorado and has big ambitions. We have total trust in her in what she’s doing. It’s allowing Jill and myself to focus on the fundraising piece while also interjecting into the programs when needed to give guidance and things like that. It’s funny.

I’m the second most seasoned employee at Wild Bear and I’ve only been there years. It goes Jill, 27 years, lifelong dream and passion. I was living in Nederland and was fortunate to find a part-time opportunity at Wild Bear years ago and I loved it so much that when someone left the organization, I said, “I would love to do this full-time because you have the freedom to be creative. You can move the needle and make an impact.”

We all talk about think globally, act philosophy locally. In Nederland, there are ambitious sustainability goals for the entire town that is built into our mission and our belief system. Jill was on a bunch of envision 20-30 committees. I work for the town as a subcontractor. My title is beautification specialists and it’s because we love where we live. We feel very fortunate. Prior to working at Wild Bear, I spent most of my time in Boulder because that’s where my full-time job was. I didn’t realize the magnitude and the amount of people who, pre-pandemic, came through this little town from all over the world.

You’d have people visiting from China and the Nederlands, especially. That’s always a funny one to see pictures in front of the police cars because it says Nederland. Again, we’re small and local but we can have a global impact by the people who wander in our doors, which is incredible. The thrust of our goals now is focused on the new nature center. A lot of people don’t even know we exist, even though we’ve been around for many years.

You’re tucked in there in the mall.

I always called the strip mall and people wandered in. They’re like, “What is this place? Where am I?” They don’t expect a concrete parking lot to have this homie nature center that also integrates arts. We love to talk about how arts and sciences collide and nature inspires art and all of those things. It’s going to be incredible when we’re on the facility right at the corner of the Indian peaks wilderness. It’ll be less chaotic because you’re in the forest. Families are going to hang out more when you’re in the parking lot of the strip mall. It’s so busy and we make it work but it’s not ideal. We’re chomping at the bit to get out of there even though it’s been a great home for many years.

We expanded to a bay next door because we increased our staff. We needed more office space and it’s a dual-use office space, an art lounge. There’s a need in Nederland for artists to have a place to go and create. We love that and so we have this eco arts lounge that’s going to have pop-up galleries and weekend hours. It’s still in the works but it’s going to be incredible. I learned that Boulder County has one of the top five concentrations of artists in the entire country.

We’re hoping by providing more things for all ages that we draw people up from Boulder because we’ve had a lot of challenges over the past years, not to mention the pandemic but Boulder Canyon, prior was closed from 10:00 to 2:00, Monday through Thursday. You’re trying to get school groups to come up and participate in programming. We were isolated to only Fridays. Once the Canyon is free and clear, once the pandemic is hopefully under control, people are going to seek us out, I think. It’s exciting times.

You have a lot going on and you’ve weathered some serious challenges over the last few years. I know you built a new website. What other activities are you engaged in to try and raise funds for this new facility?

Prior to my employment, we weren’t engaged a lot in the Boulder Community. We’re well-known in Nederland, obviously and a few people in Boulder have either heard of us or have sent their kids to our camps. We’ve reached out and we’ve joined the Boulder Chamber to expand so that people are seeing our names. We were going to try to participate in a bunch of the Boulder Farmer’s Markets but they’re not having organizations participate this season. It’s more of paid vendors and nonprofits but in the past, we’ve done Boulder Farmer’s Markets. We’re doing the Nederland Farmer’s Market. We’re doing one of those a month. We’ll be there. We hired a local architecture firm to design the building, Arch 11 Boulder and they have an office in Denver as well.

We’re trying to disconnect kids from technology so they can reconnect with nature. But also, technology is a part of our lives. We have to embrace it as well.

The principal architect used to live in Ned. His kids came to Wild Bear, so we’re engaging companies in Boulder to start talking about us to their constituents hopefully. We’ve hired Studio Tectonic to give us advice and guidance on our professional exhibits because now everything is done grassroots. You mentioned the challenges we faced.

We were fortunate that during the pandemic, because we’re a licensed childcare facility, we were encouraged to stay open. We had hired our Education Director, Michelle, five days prior to the pandemic shutting everything down. She got here excited for what was to come and we had to close for a few months but then we reopened. We safely operated our summer camp during the pandemic.

I give kudos to all the people involved. It was not easy but Boulder County was very supportive. The grant funding was coming through. One thing that we learned of thought is going to launch us forward. We applied for the Social Venture Partners catapult initiative. They are a group of people and organizations and companies in Boulder that we had to apply for.

It was very competitive. Lots of interviews, lots of Q&As, that type of thing, and we were selected. I don’t know how many but I know it was very competitive. It’s three-year guaranteed grant money but they also give pro bono services to help us where we’re falling short in some of our activities. As you said, we’re doing so much. We were able to expand our staff but we’re still piecemealing things together as best we can. We’re excited about their pro bono services because they said they’re going to help broaden our reach in the Boulder Community. That’s exciting for us. We’re getting ready to have a press release sent out, then we’ll start working with our partners to grow the organization even more.

It sounds like you’re doing some grant work. Do you have access to any of the GOCO Grant stuff or does that fall outside of your area?

No, we have applied for GOCO funding in the past. We partnered with the town of Nederland on a grant proposal. We weren’t selected but we have some current grants, especially capital grants that are in the pipeline. One in particular in Boulder County is called the Worthy Cause Grant. It’s where they take a portion of tax dollars and support nonprofits. We’re hoping that’s going to be a large six-figure gift that will launch us forward. We’re being aggressive with the new nature center. We want to break ground this fall. Construction in Nederland is difficult because of the weather.

We have this tight window. We have a local contractor who has also offered his services pro bono, which is about at least $250,000. We’ll see when we initially did our estimates prior to the construction costs doubling. Again, with nonprofit fundraising, you have to ask people and hopefully, someone out of kindness and generosity is able to provide. We’ll see if maybe a lumber company comes through and cuts those costs.

Do you have corporate sponsors or partners in that regard? I’m trying to get a feel for what assets you have that we could maybe help guide you to tap into in terms of expanding that reach. One of the things that can be effective is going after big fish, as opposed to a whole bunch of little fish. I think it’s a two-approach for sure. We want not to exclude the little fish but if we could get access to assets from someone large, whether that be funds or potential reach, that can go a long way to being able to expand or elevate your message to a larger audience. Do you have corporate partners that you work with at all that might have access to large email lists?

A little bit. Eldora, the local Ski Resort, is a huge supporter of all the nonprofits in Nederland. They’re awesome and their larger company is Powder. We’re trying to talk to the owners of Powder but the local people who run outdoor are very supportive. That’s a big one. They help promote one of our fundraising events, the Back Country Film Festival.

They’ve provided their facilities when we didn’t have any snow to do our Snow School Program. We were allowed to go use their Nordic Center for snowshoeing, which was cool because winter sports are expensive and a lot of kids don’t get a chance to see a Ski Resort. We’re lucky that it’s fifteen minutes up the road. They’ve been a big one. One of the big fish that is on my radar is Google.

They have a facility in Boulder.

It’s growing and I’ve seen their name on some other like the museum of Boulder. It has a creative space and it’s sponsored by Google. I think it’s the Google Garage. We love low tech, so to speak. We’re trying to disconnect kids from technology so they can reconnect with nature but also, technology is a part of our lives. We have to embrace it as well. I’d love for them to swoop in and put their name on it to maybe give back to the community to say, “We understand. We’re coming in. We’re helping Boulder grow and we want to give back to something like this that is going to impact a lot of people.”

RTNP 57 | Build Partnerships
Build Partnerships: We love Patagonia because they changed their mission statement a couple of years ago to, “We’re in business to save our home planet,” which we love.


It’s my understanding that a lot of those guys have built or bought homes in the Nederland area as well. The Ned Community has some Google people in it, for sure.

I’m trying to think if there are any others. We do work with a national organization out of Boise, Idaho. They’re called the Winter Wildlands Alliance. They sponsor snow school. That is their program. That’s a great partnership as well because there are no snow school sites all across the country. I remember the first snow of school program I went to. Explaining to kids that this can be your job.

We work with the CU Mountain Research Station. They bring in scientists, volunteers and interns from CU and tell kids like, “This can be your job coming out here and digging in the snow and finding out what’s happening underneath.” I remember a kid being like, “What? I could do that for a career?” I was like, “Yes.” Opening kids’ eyes to things that they might not be thinking of are special.

A couple of ideas here. The first one is Google has a nonprofit program and you can apply for a Google Grant and if you are successful in your application, they will give you up to $10,000 per month of Google Ads that you can run. Getting involved with that program could potentially create opportunities for you.

One of the things that we’ve seen work well is running sweepstakes. There is a company called Top Cat. I’d be happy to make an introduction to Top Cat for you. They run sweepstakes programs for nonprofits. Essentially, that’s one of the reasons I was asking about corporate sponsors is if you can tap into the mailing lists, so the email is from some of these large corporate opportunities, particularly Eldora. I don’t know if CU could open up their system or not but Winter Wildlands Alliance might be interested in doing that.

You can tap into Top Cats systems in order to bring in donations for a sweepstakes run. It does a couple of things. One, it brings in those donations but you also get access to all the data, so all of the new people that would then be built into that list. Those might be some opportunities for you and you can use those in conjunction with one another. You can create Top Cat sweepstakes then use your Google Grants to drive traffic to that and to increase awareness. Those are two ideas that I would recommend looking into for your organization in order to try and broaden your reach and supercharge your donations.

We did apply for and got a G-Suite for nonprofits. We were approved for Google Grants. Again, that’s where small organizations and teams and still operating day-to-day and trying to do this huge capital fundraising. We’re trying to figure it out on our own and that’s where I’m hoping someone through this SVP grant and program that we were awarded that someone there takes the reins with it and get that going. It’s time-consuming when you don’t know what you’re doing, get it going and you spend a couple of days and you’re like, “I still haven’t. I have all these other things,” but the Top Cat thing seems cool.

We have reached out to the local REI store but a lot of those places are very particular in what they carry and they’re running programs that are very similar to what we’re running. I don’t want to call it a competition but essentially, it is when they’re having a snowshoe event at Brainard Lake. That’s what we’re doing on our property at Mud Lake, but I will say the locals they’ve been very supportive. They let me come in and talk to their staff and they let us a table there one time. They are very supportive. It’s like if we have a field guide and we want them to carry it, it’s not approved but the Patagonia Store locally has also been supportive. We love Patagonia because they changed their mission statement a couple of years ago that, “We’re in business to save our home planet,” which we love.

Each of the local stores allowed the employees to choose the nonprofits in the area that they’ll support. I’ve tabled at their store before to promote events. They’ve donated lightly worn gear to some of the families that great don’t have as much winter gear because like I mentioned, it’s expensive. Anything we don’t use, we distribute to some of the other local organizations here in Nederlands. We’re all trying to help each other out but those are great sources. I’m going to look into that Top Cat for sure.

Let me know if you would like an introduction. We’re friends with those guys. A couple of other things there that you could potentially look into and one is, you’re probably aware that Patagonia is a 1% for the planet partner. One percent of the planet has business partners. For example, my business Relish Studio is a business partner for 1% for the planet. One percent of our revenue goes to environmental causes but they have a list of certified 1% for the planet nonprofits. Those are the people to whom these businesses donate their funds to make up their 1%. If you’re not a 1% nonprofit partner given your environmental slant, I’m sure that you could become one very easily. You might check out the 1% program as well.

For sure, I’ve seen that on a lot of things and it’s on my radar. The other organization that we would love to partner with because I believe the director is lives in Nederland, POW, Protect Our Winters. We want to build a partnership with them. We became a leave no trace authorized partner as well. We’re going to be pitching that more. Again, we always go back to grassroots. As we mentioned, people come through Nederland but they don’t know we exist because we’re tucked away.

Our goal because of this ambitious staff we have is to meet people where they are. To go to, say the Hessie Trailhead and talk to people prior to them heading out onto the trails to remind them, “You, being here has an impact positively or negatively. We want to swing it to the positive side.” Providing something small that they can take. Hopefully, when they come back through Nederlands, they’re going to be like, “Let’s stop at that nature center.”

We want to tell people, “You being here has an impact, positively or negatively. We want to swing it to the positive side.”

The other thing that you mentioned you were having some challenges getting your ad words campaign set up through Google. You might look into Energized Colorado. We’ve been a mentor at Energize for the last years or so. This was a program put in place by Governor Polis and his team at the onset of the pandemic to provide opportunities for small businesses and a nonprofit would qualify as a small business to gain access to mentors and people who can volunteer some of their time to help perhaps get your ad word campaign set up. You might check out Energized Colorado as well and see if they can hook you up with somebody to help with setting up those campaigns for you.

Google also, when you set it all up, you can request that but I haven’t heard back. I have to follow up but you basically say like, “We could use some support. It goes out to whoever they partner with.” Maybe it’s like a university where they have expertise in that and they support you but I hadn’t heard back yet. I know it probably takes a couple of weeks and somebody’s availability has to be there.

The takeaway is, as you’re trying to attack this phase of engagement where essentially, you’re trying to attract people and get them into your systems and into your mailing list and enable you to build those relationships. Leveraging all of those assets and not necessarily thinking about what dollars an organization might be able to bring as a partner with you but also what are the additional assets that they might have that you could tap into. Mailing lists, internal marketing teams, product opportunities in terms of donation of products or even services rather than money. Keeping your eyes and ears open for all of those opportunities that can help expand your mission and drive awareness.

I liked the idea of Eldora. You mentioned that they are incredibly supportive of local nonprofits. They are trying to foster a lot of community in the Nederland area and they do have access to a rather large email list that they could leverage potentially. When you’re having conversations with those guys, talking with them about the ways that they could expand that positive effect that they’re bringing to your organization, whether that be tapping into the broader Powder assets or even within that Eldora not tiny email list. Basically, trying to figure out ways to enable you to get your message out there more effectively.

They’re great. It’s funny because three of the past four winters, I was a part-time employee at Eldora. I know not only from my introduction with Wild Bear but then I’m standing there in the retail shop selling goods for them and I’d see the marketing guy and the executive. They’ve tapped into the community. Part of Nederland, there’s the downtown development authority and one of their executives. He’s on that board. I happened to work as a subcontractor for the town. Again, it’s that small town where these dots are easy to connect. They supported the food pantry, teen zinc. I’m blown away by the number of nonprofits in Nederland.

It’s about ten of them and there are only a few thousand residents but their play it forward initiative was cool. We were a recipient of some of the funding from that. They want to see Nederland thrive because without the town. Maybe they aren’t as successful but I know from working up there and talking to visitors. I would always mention, like, “Did you stop in Ned and check out any of the shops or restaurants?” “Only passing through.” That’s the challenge in the wintertime for all the businesses in Nederland. It’s a slow time and people aren’t looking to stop and hang out.

The other thing you might look at and this isn’t a huge well but it certainly is an opportunity. I know that there are a number of businesses in the Nederland area that do roundups and things like that. ACE does one. Busey the brewery, they’re in town. They have a program where they select a nonprofit every month, I believe and any purchases of a specific beer, they’ll donate $1 per beer to that organization. There are certainly a lot of very philanthropic and helpful people in the Nederland area. Leveraging all of that networking that you’ve done and all of those connections that you have is a viable way to get out there and not only bring in revenue but bring in awareness.

It’s funny you mentioned that because again, being around for many years in Nederland, Jill has formed some incredible partnerships. I could probably list in one way or another how each business in Ned has helped us in some way, shape or form. When we have our enchanted forest fundraiser in the fall, usually every local business sponsors it or donates something. During the town cleanup, New Moon Bakery donated coffee and pastries.

Were already a part of the ACE Roundup, they usually do that for us in September because that’s when our fundraiser takes place, Crosscut Pizza. We provide coloring sheets to do them for the kids who are sitting there. We put our list of programs on the backside with a word search. While they’re doing the word search, the parents see the list of programs and the coloring sheet. Not only that avenue of promoting Wild Bear but they have been a cash sponsor as well.

Shan and Peter are great.

Jesse, who works there, has a kid who will hopefully come through Wild Bear. We now have people sending their kids to Wild Bear, who Jill said were original Wild Bears and so it’s starting to be multi-generational. The Caribou Room, with the new facility that we’re going to have right across the street from them, we’re building that partnership and hopefully going to use their parking lot when we have overflow. At the same time, it’s going to put them on the map for people who don’t know about their amazing facility.

They helped us cohost our Back Country Film Festival, years prior and gave us a break on the facility. Great people, great facility. The town of Nederland, we have great partnerships with. We also have strategic donation boxes placed throughout town. Mountain Peoples Coop, there’s one at the register there. I can’t remember what other businesses we have them in now.

RTNP 57 | Build Partnerships
Build Partnerships: Maybe that first step turns into a mile then that mile turns into a significant hike that leads to a fourteener. That progression is what we’re excited about.


That’s great. It sounds like you’re doing a lot of the right stuff. What’s your email lists look like in terms of how many kids have come through your program? How active are you with your emailing?

It used to be very irregular. It would be Jill and I like, “We got to get a newsletter out. It’s been a couple of months since we’ve sent anything out.” As we got some funding to expand our staff, we now have a dedicated social media manager. She’s been great about making sure that we’re posting at least daily. The email list, making sure that we’re sending a newsletter. We worked with Walden Hyde in Boulder, a marketing firm that helped rebrand us, redesign our website, stepped us up by a notch. They looked at what we were doing because we have so much to say that sometimes it gets overwhelming with the amount of copy that we have in our newsletters.

They helped us pare things down, be real strategic. I think our email outgoing list is a little over 4,000 and hitting them with a very specific thing like our volunteer event or the beginning of the month, “Here are all the programs that are coming up. Don’t miss out on all the exciting things.” That’s where we are. We use constant contact, which a lot of organizations do, which is nice because you can get feedback on how many people engaged with it, click rate, open rate, unsubscribe rate, which is always interesting to see, like who unsubscribed. Somebody who would always want to know what we’re doing but I get that. That’s where we are with the email campaigns.

One of the things we’ve been recommending and doing ourselves is being consistent. That would be the first thing. Try to get something out very regularly. When you’re sending an email out, there are some tricks and things that you can employ that will help with engagement as well as open rates and things like that. The first is trying to provide something of value. Instead of having a newsletter, for example that has nine different things that you’re trying to educate people about.

Feel free to send out an email about some animal that was seen on the property and how exciting that was. A little bit more about that animal, for example or a flower that’s blooming now to have people keep their eyes open and have it be a short and quick like, “Did you know this was blooming this week, maybe go out and try and find some and send us some pictures.” Try to get engagement. Try and get back and forth. Give people a little bit of information about that animal or that plant that’s interesting.

If you can do that and get very regular about that, people start to get excited to see what’s the newest thing that’s going to be coming through. When you do it, also strip out all of the HTML stuff. Make it feel like this email came from somebody in your organization. In fact, you could circle through the people in your organization and have them be the center.

Use constant contact, obviously but make it come from a person. When you do some of those things, you make these emails feel very personal. People start to feel like they have a real one-to-one relationship with you and your organization, as opposed to being another person on a list. Those are a couple of email tricks that you could maybe take advantage of to improve your engagement on that particular platform.

That’s great advice. Every time we’re going to send one out, we always have a quick brainstorming session of, “The subject line is so critical. What are we going to write in the subject line to catch their attention?” That it’s not going to get filtered into spam because that happens pretty regularly.

Subject lines, if you can use their name or even use the word you in the subject line, that tends to help. Open rates, people like seeing their name and if there’s an email that they’re scanning their inbox and it says, “Here’s a new nature tip.” I’m more inclined to pause on that email and potentially open it than if it said, “Here’s a new nature tip.” The other way that you could do that is you could say, “Here’s a new nature tip for you.” That also reinforces that this is something special for them.

That’s great advice. I’m going to pass that along to our social media person.

I think that coming up with a calendar in terms of what you’re planning to do in terms of your outreach, whether that be email, blog posts or Instagram or Facebook. I know you’re on Facebook and Instagram as well and YouTube. A video goes a long way and there are ways to take and capture video and turn that into a blog post that you could then send via email that you could then also chop up for social. Figuring out ways to do something once and use it a variety of different times, particularly for nonprofits who are busy, they don’t have huge staff. Those are ways to help get a lot of juice out of a single item.

That’s great tips like you said, you nailed it on the head. It’s regularity and coming up with a schedule to make sure that we keep them engaged without those big breaks in between.

Once a Wild Bear, always a Wild Bear.

It’s a challenge. I face this. I’ve started doing a lot of the communication stuff for the Nederland area trails organization. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with something new and fresh on a regular basis. If you can create a calendar and create an intention and a commitment to doing something on a schedule. If you didn’t overreach, you could start to get comfortable with that schedule and it makes it easier to add another one but figuring out what you’re going to commit to and sticking with that. In the other pieces, you don’t always have to be the creator of the material. If you can bring information to people’s attention, it’s called the being the Maven.

If you can supply people with information, that’s essentially as good as being the person who thought it up. If there is a great article that you found on Leave No Trace, for example, that’s even from Leave No Trace if you can say, “Here’s a cool article about how to reduce your impact as you’re traveling through our wilderness areas, from Leave No Trace,” and link out to the article. Basically, give a little bit of information about why you think it’s important. If you’re getting the people the information that they’re interested in, that can be as effective and powerful as coming up with it yourself in some capacities.

Especially as things start to ramp up, I’m excited that we’re now a Leave No Trace partner because people are coming into the nature center who are not from Colorado and even people who are from Colorado. It’s not at the forefront of everyone’s mind or it’s like, “I’ll pick up that bag of dog poop when I come back,” and inevitably, you forget.

Making people know that even a banana peel on the ground is impactful in a negative way because that isn’t a normal thing that would happen here if it weren’t for this human walking by. It’ll break down but between now and then, an animal’s going to get ahold of it anyway. That’s what we are. We are an educational institution and we want to educate the public. The number one question for people coming from out of state who are a little hesitant is usually, “What’s there to do around here or where should I go?”

That’s the whole reason to circle back to the new nature center. It’s why we need that facility is because then we give them that first step into the wilderness where they’re feeling safe and comfortable. Maybe that first step turns into 1 mile, then that mile turns into a significant hike that leads to a fourteener. That progression is what we’re excited about.

How can people find out more about Wild Bear?

We have a web presence it’s WildBear.org. All of the information of our programs and our mission and our staff. There’s a little bit of teaser video on there of the new nature center. Our history is on there as well. You can find us on Facebook, Wild Bear Nature Center. We’re on Instagram, also Wild Bear Nature Center. We don’t utilize Twitter too much. We’re at all, I should say.

If people want to sign up for our regular newsletters, there’s a way to do that on our website as well. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities. We’re open seven days a week, so there are ways to get involved inside the nature center, community outreach. We’re always looking for new board members. There are a plethora of ways to be involved in Wild Bear. We always say, “Once a Wild Bear, always a Wild Bear.”

I would encourage anyone coming through the Nederland area to look for the train and the carousel of happiness and Wild Bear Center is right there next to those two very obvious landmarks. They’re right in the middle of the town. I can’t believe it’s been almost an hour. This has been such a fun conversation.

I’ve enjoyed learning more about Wild Bear. I liked to end all my shows with action. I love having conversations and talking with people but I ultimately want to inspire people to get out and do something. If our audience read our conversation and were wondering what they could do to be a better steward of the planet, what would you recommend that they do?

I always go back to the three Rs, reduce, reuse, recycle. The first thing, reduce, meaning hyper-consumerism is rampant in our world and think about reducing the amount of stuff that you feel like you need to buy, reusing things. Find a second purpose for the plastic bag that was given to you from the grocery store. In our maker’s space, we love reusing toilet paper rolls for kids’ crafts, those types of things and recycling what you can. As I’ve been working at Wild Bear, another action, composting what you can, reduces methane gases in the atmosphere tremendously.

One thing that I always do, no matter where I am, whether it’s in Nederland or Boulder or back visiting my family in Ohio, when I see trash on the ground, I pick it up. My mom always taught me somebody’s got to pick it up. If you’re walking past it and you have the ability to pick it up and dispose of it in the proper way, that goes a long way. Those would be my pieces of advice.

RTNP 57 | Build Partnerships
Build Partnerships: If you’re walking past it and you have the ability to pick it up and dispose of it in the proper way, that goes a long way.


I agree. I love it. Thanks so much for being on the show, Mike. It was great talking with you. I’m excited to see where you guys head with Wild Bear. I will make sure I say hi at the Farmer’s Market.

Thanks so much, Stu. It was great. My first show experience was excellent.

I’m glad you had fun.

I’ll shoot over some stuff to you here in a little bit.

Sounds good. Talk to you soon.

Thanks. Take care.

There you have it, another great episode of the show. Thanks for reading. If you would like to learn more about how to apply the audience engagement cycle to expand your organization’s mission, there are two things you can do. You can go to MissionUncomfortableBook.com to download a copy of my book. While you’re there, you can get your purpose-driven marketing score to see where you can unearth some gold for your organization. If you’d like to read-to-back episodes of the show or sign up to be a guest, go to RelishStudio.com/podcast. That’s it. I’ll be back for another great episode of the show.

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About Mike Reichert