Published on June 14, 2022

What We've Built Together

Over the past 21 years, the Boston Nature Center has grown to be a vibrant community nature center under Julie Brandlen’s leadership.

Given her retirement, we are honoring Julie’s legacy by establishing BNC’s Sanctuary of Belonging Fund. Below are some of the milestones that highlight our shared journey towards building a community of belonging.

  • 2001 – Construction of the George Robert White Environmental Conservation Center, on-going collaboration with on-site partners including the Clark Cooper Community Gardens and the City of Boston’s Leaf Composting Project. 
  • 2002 – The Building That Teaches opens to the public and is toured by worldwide visitors. Haley School Initiative is launched for teachers and children to explore the natural world. Willow Tree Youth Leaders Program (formerly BNY Mellon) paid internship program begins.
Julie Brandlen portrait

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  • 2003 – Boston Nature Center opens a licensed, American Camp Association accredited camp in Mattapan, offering a sliding-scale model for all families, community use of the building for special family occasions, retreats, and other events. School Vacation Programs are offered to the surrounding community in February and April.
  • 2005 – Philbrick School initiative develops, Boston School Environmental Initiative: a whole school change model is launched with Boston Public Schools.
  • 2007 – Boston Nature Center partners with community organizations to open Summer Discoveries for visiting camps to explore the natural world.
  • 2009 – Pathways to Nature Outreach connects with neighboring Head Start programs and other Preschools to discover outdoor learning.
  • 2010 – BNC showcases a vegetated, green roof and the Nature Nook, and outdoor natural play space opens.
  • 2011 – Boston Area Beekeepers Association expands its apiary on-site.
  • 2012 – Historian Scholar Steven Pavlos Holmes releases A Healing Landscape: Environmental and Social History of the Site of Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center.
  • 2013 – BNC opens a Massachusetts Early Education and Care licensed preschool, Pathways to Nature and its All Persons Trail (available in audio, English and Spanish text, and Braille).
  • 2014 – Boston Food Forest Coalition creates a flagship food forest at BNC, demonstrating best permaculture practices.
  • 2016 – BNC opens satellite camp in West Roxbury. BNC celebrates the second edition of A Healing Landscape.
  • 2018 – BNC highlights legacy trees of the former Boston State Hospital and its old and new orchards.
  • 2019 – BNC launches an ever-expanding partnership with sister sanctuary, Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary and its organic farm to offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares in Mattapan.
  • 2020 – BNC partners with Mattapan Food and Fitness and participates in the Mattapan Farmers Market to help address the food inequities in our community. BNC installs an electric vehicle charging station.
  • 2021 – BNC launches Farmer Trekkers with Drumlin Farm and pilot the Environmental Leadership for Teens program, focusing on environmental and food justice issues.
  • 2022 – BNC becomes net zero, carbon neutral.