New executive director set to join expanded North American Bear CenterThe North American Bear Center, famed for bringing its “den cams” to the Internet, soon will have a new executive director to go with an expanded facility.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
The North American Bear Center, famed for bringing its “den cams” to the Internet, soon will have a new executive director to go with an expanded facility.
Nadine Long, who has performed volunteer work for the center for the past three years from her home in Grants Pass, Ore., will take over as executive director and educator this spring, said Lynn Rogers, founder and chairman of the board of the Ely nonprofit.
Long, who spoke to the News Tribune by phone from Grants Pass on Saturday, said she and her husband plan to arrive in Ely on March 4. She’ll begin her duties immediately, Long said, even if her office isn’t finished by then.
That’s a possibility. Groundbreaking for what was expected to be a $1 million expansion to nearly double the center’s research, education and exhibit facility took place on Sept. 30, and the project was expected to be completed by this spring.
But the project hit unexpected ledge rock that had to be blasted, adding to the cost and the time, Rogers said. It’s now a $1.25 million expansion, with about $650,000 needed to finish the job.
“We’re just hoping and having some faith,” Rogers said.
Offices will be completed first, he said, and he’s still hopeful the educational section will be open by this summer.
There’s a “reasonable hope” that the final section, an ecology exhibit, will open by May 2014, he said.
Long’s position is new, Rogers said.
“I’ve always myself acted as executive director. Maybe I still will,” he said with a chuckle.
But the addition of Long will give him more time to research and publish articles, Rogers said.
Long sees it that way, too.
“His focus has had to be so much on the bear center,” she said of the septuagenarian. “This will allow him to move away from that and really work on his research. That’s what really is behind this, because ever since the cameras he hasn’t had time.”
She was referring to the winter of 2010, when a bear named Lily gave birth to a cub named Hope in front of a worldwide Internet audience watching via den cam. From Oregon, Long began volunteering for the bear center soon after that, eventually leading a network of 200 people she refers to as “virtual volunteers.”
Long, who said she has more than 40 years of experience in business administration, marketing, advertising and fundraising, first became interested in bears between 2001 and 2007, when she and her husband were living in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada.
“We had bears around us right where we lived,” she said. “They were very sweet bears, actually. People were wrong in terms of what they think about black bears.”
She met Rogers, who was doing some research in the area, in 2002, and she found the North American Bear Center to be her best source of bear-related information.
The New Jersey native said she sees herself in a development role with the bear center.
“(I’ll be) looking for supporters, corporations, perhaps, that are like-minded and would like to participate in seeing the facility grow.”
She’ll seek to have the center nationally accredited as a museum, Long said.
She and her husband know they have friends in Ely, she said.
“We visited Ely two years ago,” she said. “It’s not like we don’t know where we’re moving to. We’re rather excited about the area. We love the little town, and the people were very welcoming.”