New Discovery Center Director Plans for Future Growth
Contact: Wendy Craney, Communications and Outreach Director
Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission
New Discovery Center Director Plans for Future Growth
The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission today announced that a key post had been re-filled with the hiring of Jeffrey Folmer as the new Discovery Center Director. According to Christopher Hawver, Executive Director of the Commission, “This marks a major turning point for the Discovery Center’s future, particularly with respect to engaging the public in our mission.”
TheAlbany Pine Bush Preserve Commission was created by the New York StateLegislature in 1988 to protect and manage the unique and endangered naturalcommunities and species of the Albany Pine Bush for ecological, recreationaland educational benefits. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve offers one of the bestexamples of an inland pine barrens environment remaining in the world, and thegateway to the Preserve is through the Discovery Center, sponsored by Trustco.
Hawver said, “The Discovery Center has been put through its paces since opening less than five years ago. We have hosted over 50,000 visitors and our education staff has led more than 1,100 programs. With a new Director comes the opportunity for even greater growth on a number of levels for which we are now well-positioned.”
The crucial significance of the task which lies ahead is not lost on the new Discovery Center Director. Folmer said, “The Albany Pine Bush is an incredible ecological gem that happens to be rich in both geological and cultural history, as well. It supports a variety of species (many threatened or endangered) and provides the public with truly unique recreational and educational options that they will not find anywhere else. Getting people to care deeply about preserving the Pine Bush is a critical part of my job.”
TheDiscovery Center houses a state-of-the-art interactive visitor center which serves as the central point of contact for the public. It also functions as the headquarters for Commission staff, as well as the State and Eastern NY Chapters of The Nature Conservancy, and provides space for the non-profit Friends of the Pine Bush Community. Opened in 2007, the Discovery Center was awarded the prestigious LEED® “Gold” certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. With unique interpretive exhibits, educational programs, the Discovery Shop, and the exterior Discovery Trail – part of an 18-mile trail system throughout thePreserve – the Discovery Center is designed to engage visitors of all ages.
Folmer said he was “…astounded by the superior quality of my first visit to the Discovery Center and with free admission (a small fee does apply to special programs), it’s a simply a ‘must-see’. I decided I must make it my personal mission to draw people here from near and far.”
Folmer’s diverse background lends itself to the multi-faceted duties that go with the job. With a B.S. in Environmental Science, he worked for 12 years at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection where he was Section Chief in the Bureau of Community Relations. He subsequently spent four years at the National Audubon Society based in New York City as the national director of a fundraising and education program. He also worked at each of the following: the American Cancer Society in Meriden, Connecticut where he was Community Executive for Development; The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts asDirector of Development; and as a Middle School science teacher also in Pittsfield. Most recently, he was the Executive Director of Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum in Lenox, Massachusetts, where under his leadership of four and one-half years the museum grew by leaps and bounds, especially with regard to public outreach.
“Among my goals for the Discovery Center,” Folmer notes, “is to provide the leadershipto substantially increase our public profile. This unique treasure should bewidely known not only in our local communities, but should also be adestination for visitors from all over. I plan to increase the number and scopeof our programs, expand or enhance indoor and outdoor interpretive exhibits,increase revenue through a variety of approaches, work with the non-profitFriends of the Pine Bush Community, and especially to be open to developing newideas. I enjoy the creative process and it’s clear to me that I have a terrificteam to work with.”
Located within the Capital District Region, the Albany Pine Bush’sgently rolling sand plainis home to a variety of rare plants and animals, including theFederally-endangered Karner blue butterfly. The 3,200-acre Albany Pine BushPreserve also creates a special habitat for a number of other rare and uniqueplants and animals, while providing visitors with an assortment ofnon-motorized recreational opportunities including hiking, jogging, naturestudy, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting,fishing and canoeing.
Folmeradds, “I am certain that as more and more people come to know and love theAlbany Pine Bush Preserve, they will come to understand the importance ofplaying a role in our mission here.”
TheAlbany Pine Bush Discovery Center transforms this globally uniquedestination into an exciting adventure where learning comes naturally throughhands-on activities. As the gateway to the Pine Bush, the Discovery Centerintroduces visitors to everything that makes the Preserve rare and adventurous.With the help of many volunteers, the Discovery Center offers monthly outingsand programs about the ecology, natural and cultural history of the Pine Busharea. Admission is free. The Center is openTuesday-Friday 9AM-4PM, Saturday and Sunday 10AM-4PM, and on most holidayMondays. The Center is also available for private parties and meetingrentals. For more information,visit www.albanypinebush.org or call 518-456-0655.
Thepublic is invited to a “Meet and Greet” Open House at the Albany Pine BushDiscovery Center located at 195 New Karner Road in Albany on March 20, 2012from 5:30pm - 7:00pm. Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the exhibits,plus light refreshments and a conversation with Jeffrey about his plans forfuture growth of the Discovery Center. RSVP by calling 518-456-0655 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Toschedule an interview or request a photo please contact:
WendyCraney 518-456-0655 x1211 email@example.com