Last week, Faribault’s River Bend Nature Center (RBNC) celebrated its 39th Annual Fundraising Event, called Ramble Week, which was filled with virtual and socially distanced in-person events and several testimonials from Shattuck-St. Mary’s School community members.
SSM has always had a close relationship with RBNC as it serves as a wonderful natural environment to take students on field trips to hike, explore nature, mountain bike, snowshoe, and cross-country ski. Even during the time of COVID-19, the RBNC remains a wonderful resource for our students and employees to venture out from behind our computer screens and take in nature’s beauty just down the street from campus.
Our long-standing relationship with the organization goes back to its inception by founder, Orwin Rustad, who was a teacher at SSM. SSM is also one of three local companies known as Star Business Partners who, through their sponsorship of RBNC, offer free memberships to the Center to all of our full-time employees. The School was honored last summer as a Key Community Partner to RBNC.
Many SSM employees were featured in short videos describing what RBNC means to them during Ramble Week, leading up to the weekend’s events. First, SSM Director of Community Life and former RBNC Naturalist John Blackmer spoke about how RBNC impacts the entire Faribault community for the better, saying, “The gravitational pull that the Nature Center has on the community is something unique, something you can’t find anywhere else…It’s really amazing to watch how people keep coming back day after day, year after year, to this Nature Center they’ve grown up with, this place that they’ve visited so many times.”
SSM science teacher and former RBNC intern Leah Inman spoke about what the Nature Center has meant to their whole family, as a place where she and her now-husband Matt Inman (also an SSM science teacher) got to know each other, and where they now take their two children to explore. “River Bend has served this community for over forty years as a place to discover, enjoy, understand, and preserve the incredible natural world that surrounds us,” said Leah.
Finally, David Connolly, General Manager of The Inn at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, spoke about the many educational experiences he and his daughter, Willow, have had at RBNC since they moved to Faribault four years ago.
Ramble Week concluded with a Music on the Prairie event and an online auction and raffle. We encourage you to view each of their videos, take a virtual tour of the Center, and carve out time to explore this lovely place for yourself.