For the last 18 months, Courtney White has had one of the best jobs in Greenburgh.
White has been the Executive Director of the Greenburgh Nature Center, a post she is soon leaving to work for the Rainforest Alliance, an international non-profit dedicated to the preservation of tropical forests. White called her time at the Greenburgh Nature Center a tremendous opportunity.
“I have been doing important work teaching environmental literacy and sustainable practices,” White said. “It’s really been quite a tremendous experience and a unique opportunity.”
White, who has been working on her Ph.D. on sustainability at the macro level felt that the nature center was a perfect fit for her beliefs.
“We need to look at how we can improve how we connect with the world and the environment,” White said.
The Greenburgh Nature Center has about 25,000 visitors a year and offers a variety of programs including an animal museum, a sustainable barnyard, a green roof and even a program about apple cidering. The center is 33 acres right off of Central Park Avenue, one of the most trafficked streets in Westchester.
“We’ve seen so much development that the fact that this land was preserved is kind of incredible,” White said. “You go past strip malls, signs, traffic and speed to pull into this oasis of 33 acres. Once you’re in here, you’re in a different place.”
The land the Greenburgh Nature Center sits on was going to be developed as a condominium in 1975, but residents rose up and decided to protect the property. They worked with the town and state to secure funds for the property. The town owns the property and it is a protected preserve.
“The public learns about environmental literacy and sustainable practices,” White said. “It’s pretty cool.”
The center is working on building a nature discovery playground to encourage more kids to go outside and be active.
“Kids have decreased outside activity by 70 percent,” White said. “This will encourage kids and parents to come. It creates a sense of community and connects people to changes and landscapes.”
The Greenburgh Nature Center is not just for kids, offering high school and college internships and programs for adults. The center hosts a native plant series, and offers guest lecturers and screenings.
In her 18 months at the center, White has done a lot of outreach about conservation measures and how the county could save millions by changing some of their customs..
“There are tremendous economic savings by making some simple behavior changes,” White said.
While she is looking forward to her new position at the Rainforest Alliance, White said she would miss coming into work every day and staring at the scenery.
“What could be better?” White asked. “I look out my window and it’s so beautiful. We have organic gardens, dog woods, and cherry blossoms. I’ve seen eagles and red tail hawks. It’s really quite a magical and special place. It has an incredible pulse and heartbeat. It’s so important to the community.”
White said she wants to encourage members of the community to come and bring a picnic to the center.
“I can’t say enough good things about it,” White said.