River Bend Nature Center has hired Ben Van Gundy as its new executive director.
A former executive director of Dodge Nature Center in West St. Paul, Van Gundy brings to River Bend an record of conservation leadership in both Minnesota and Iowa. He most recently held the position of land protection specialist with Ducks Unlimited in Apple Valley.
A native of Fort Dodge, Iowa, Van Gundy received his Bachelor of Science degree in fisheries and wildlife biology from Iowa State University. Over the course of more than 25 years dedicated to conservation work in Iowa, he served as director of the Polk County Conservation Board, the Wetlands for Iowa Program of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, the Cerro Gordo County Conservation Board, and the Audubon County Conservation Board. He moved to Minnesota in 2004.
“I am thrilled to have been selected. River Bend Nature Center is a superb asset, not just for the local community, but for the state of Minnesota," Van Gundy said. "My hope is to raise awareness of River Bend regionally and throughout the state, and ultimately to see River Bend become nationally recognized as a center for environmental education. The assets are in place – a dedicated board, highly competent staff, committed volunteers and wonderful natural resources with diverse habitats. I look forward to helping River Bend thrive.”
Van Gundy is an enthusiastic outdoorsman who enjoys canoeing, hiking, hunting and fishing. His wife, Julie, is an in-home counselor with Associated Clinic of Psychology in Apple Valley. They have two adult sons, Matt and Ryan, who are students at Metropolitan State University and Vermilion Community College, respectively.
River Bend board president Linda Olson said, “Ben brings a wealth of experience in finance, fundraising and environmental programming. He is a passionate advocate for getting children outdoors and involved in experiential learning. His core values align wonderfully with ours, and he will bring exciting new skills, ideas and programs to River Bend. We are delighted to welcome him on board.”
River Bend Nature Center is a donor-supported 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people discover, enjoy, understand and preserve the natural world. A vital ecological resource, River Bend encompasses 743 acres of prairie, woods, ponds and riverfront along the Straight River, offering 10 miles of dedicated trails and serving as a primary source of environmental education and outdoor recreation for children and adults in Faribault and Rice County. Visit rbnc.org for more information on River Bend’s programs, events, facilities and recreational opportunities.