Zion Nature Center welcomes new manager

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“A Naturalist is somewhere between a teacher and a scientist,” said Mindy Murdock, the new manager and interpretive naturalist of Zion Nature Center. The nature center is at 690 Beech St., Zionsville.

“A Naturalist is somewhere between a teacher and a scientist,” said Mindy Murdock, the new manager and interpretive naturalist of Zion Nature Center. The nature center is at 690 Beech St., Zionsville.

By Sophie Pappas  

For Mindy Murdock, 35, science is life.

Combining her love for animals and nature, Murdock just landed a dream job as the new manager of Zion Nature Center.

“I have always loved animals and I’ve always loved education,” Murdock said, which is why she initially studied zoology at Kent State University in her home state of Ohio.

But after an internship at a zoo, Murdock knew she didn’t want to strictly work with animals.

While earning her Masters in Science from the University of Akron, Ohio, Murdock studied under Stan Stein, a nationally recognized Interpretive Naturalist.

“He put me in the world of parks and outdoor education,” Murdock said.

She finished her thesis project on fenced lizards, studying the creatures from the southern states all the way to Nebraska.

Now, as a certified Interpretive Naturalist herself, Murdock is ready to educate the Zionsville community.

“A Naturalist is somewhere between a teacher and a scientist,” she said. “And when we say Interpretive Naturalist it just means we bring in tangible things that people can relate to and teach science. We make hard science something that everyone can understand.”

Without the burdens of being a traditional educator, Murdock brings creativity into the programs she is establishing at the nature center.

“I want to make a big push in the fall to get programming going,” she said. “Everyone always says that [the nature center]is this little gem and a hidden secret. But for it to stay viable I don’t want to keep it a secret. I want to do programs with the schools, the retirement communities, and even form partnerships with places like the library.”

All about Mindy

Age: 35

Alma Mater: Kent State, University of Akron

Family: Married to Joe Murdock for 13 years, owner of three dogs, two cats, and a turtle

Hobbies: gardening, art, spending time with pets and husband

Upcoming activities at the Zion Nature Center

1 p.m., June 22 

Native Plant Program – For Kids! 

Join master gardener and INPAWS member Jane Diedrich as she discusses why native plants are crucial to the web of life and to our future. Each family attending the program will receive a Luna moth caterpillar to take home with them. Space is limited, so please register at naturecenter@zionsville-in.gov

1 p.m., June 28 

What’s the Buzz about Bees?

The Dow Science Ambassadors will be on hand to talk about the amazing lives of honey bees.  Check out our observational bee hive and learn more. Space is limited, so please register at naturecenter@zionsville-in.gov

2 to 5 p.m., June 29

Open House and Celebration!

We have a lot to celebrate here at Zion Nature Center. Stop in Sunday to welcome Mindy Murdock as our new Naturalist. If that wasn’t enough, Zion Nature Center is celebrating its 12th birthday! No registration is required.

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