River Bend Nature Center will need a new leader in the new year.

River Bend Nature Center

Executive director Ben Van Gundy gave the River Bend Nature Center Board of Directors notice of his intent to retire via email in October. His last day will be December 31, 2015.

Van Gundy became River Bend's director in September 2013 after more than 35 years in conservation, including a stint as executive director at Dodge Center Nature Center in West St. Paul.

River Bend has renewed its emphasis on land management under Van Gundy's leadership, has seen its environmental education programs grow, and has formed new community partnerships.

“We wish Ben the best of luck in his retirement," said Catherine McBride, River Bend board president. "Ben's long legacy of environmental education and conservation will continue at River Bend through his initiatives such as our very popular OWLS (Older, Wiser, Livelier, Seniors) program, and the exceptional team of educators and support staff he has assembled. Ben is a great person who we have enjoyed working with and we will greatly miss his dedication to the Nature Center and his sense of humor. We wish him a well-deserved, long and relaxing retirement.”

Van Gundy urges River Bend members and supporters to continue their stewardship. "As I depart from my duties as executive director,” Van Gundy says, “I would like to ask everyone reading this to please take good care of River Bend Nature Center. Its 743 acres are priceless and will need protection over the coming decades. I have found that anything can happen to natural areas, even though you may think it’s impossible that so beloved a place could become housing development, farm field, or big box store. In addition, the programs at River Bend are superior and need constant and devoted support from the community.”

The Board of Directors has formed a transition team to identify interim leadership needs and to work on hiring the next executive director.

To read the complete text of the email to River Bend members and supporters, visit River Bend Nature Center’s website.