Joe Marks, Katie Weller, Becky Seiber and Tim Rychel

More than five hundred guests attended Nature at Night, a special outdoor event held on the grounds of the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. This annual event is among the most smoothly run benefits on the calendar, from the valet parking to the impeccable service, and the dozen outstanding local restaurants that donate their time, resources, and talent toward entertaining patrons. From creative cocktails to passed appetizers, desserts, and a myriad of small plates – each more creative and delicious than the next – no one goes away hungry or dissatisfied.
Three live bands played throughout the entire event, including the evocative New Orleans-infused group, Slideways. Patrons had the

Board Chair Meg Hunter and Jed Hunter

chance to stroll or sit, mingle and enjoy not only menu items but each other’s company throughout the early evening, and into the twilight hours. The event also featured an online silent auction with culinary prizes from picnics to special occasion meals, tickets for sports and arts events, and also a raffle for a 10-day stay in Barcelona.
In a brief presentation, the organization’s first Community Spark Award was given to the Ohio Environmental Council, a partnering nonprofit that works toward clean water, clean energy and the protection of public lands. Partnership is an important aspect to the Center – it collaborates with three cities, and multiple nonprofits to help fulfill its mission.
The Nature Center, founded nearly 50 years ago, continues to thrive as it offers accessible green space, educational programming, and inventive methods for

Jim and Cindy Crosby with Tonya and Paul Passarelli

bringing people and nature together through curated presentations, through art, and through hands-on classes. Within the 20 acres of this protected green space are eight unique native habitats that need constant conservation, a pavilion, offices/gift shop and two trails accessible to people of every ability.
Funds from Nature at Night go to general operating expenses. Costs include hosting over 140,000 visitors and 13,000 students annually. The Center also bands over 1,000 birds every year for science and migration studies.With a calendar already full, the Center is introducing Summer Wednesdays as a way to entice families to visit during extended hours mid-week. Each Summer Wednesday will have a theme – painting or pets, or simple exploration, and events are free and open to the public, working toward its mission to “conserve, connect, and inspire.” Visit STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RITA KUEBER