Warner Park Nature Center

celebrating 50 years of wpnc
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Woman holding a bird while teaching a class of children in the 1970s

50 Years of Connecting People to Nature

 The environmental climate of the 1970s gave birth to “centers of nature” and conservation programs around the country. In 1973, the first Metro Park Naturalist was hired and the Warner Park Nature Center (WPNC) became the first environmental education facility for the Warner Parks and the city of Nashville.

 For 50 years, the Warner Park Nature Center has impacted the hearts and minds of countless students, parents, families, researchers, nature lovers, and more. We hope you will join us this year as we celebrate this golden anniversary and incredible milestone for WPNC. 

Did You Know?

The Warner Park Nature Center was “born in the Holiday Inn near I-40 in Crossville, TN”.

WPNC was established in a meeting in a motel in Crossville TN.  Mary Wherry, who was the Metro Parks Recreation Division Superintendent at the time, is often called the “mother” of the Nature Center.  Legend has it that she drove to Crossville during a winter ice storm in order to meet with USDA representatives from Knoxville to sign the paperwork which would ultimately establish the Warner Park Nature Center.

Did You Know?

WPNC Leaders Bob Parrish, Deb Beazley, and Sandy Bivens all started at WPNC in 1977.

None of the trio had any experience in conservation, environmental education, or natural resources management, and over the 40+ years all have been employed in Warner Parks, they learned “on the job” and were the driving force behind many WPNC and Warner Parks institutions that still exist today. Sandy Bivens and Bob Parrish both still work in Warner Parks and Deb, now retired, is an avid volunteer.

Did You Know?

WPNC’s First Director, David Shaffer, was the only staff member when the nature center was established in 1973.

A newspaper article called him “Nashville’s Own Nature Freak” and he was charged with starting a nature center in Warner Parks.  He lived on-site in an existing farmhouse (now the Library Building and office for the BIRD program) and developed the first programs, trails, displays, and nature center campus features.

Share Your WPNC Story

When I think back on the things that have shaped my love of nature and guided my environmental career, I find that the positive influence of the Warner Park Nature Center has been profound, inestimable.”

Lyn Rutherford
Natural Resource Supervisor Dept. of Parks and Outdoors, Chattanooga

50th anniversary tshirts
Upcoming BIRD Events

WPNC By The Numbers

people served at wpnc

school programs

birds banded


Upcoming Nature Center Events


Renew Yoga

Renew Yoga

Time 9:00 am - 10:00 am

Join us on the last Saturday of each month for our Reset and Renew Yoga class. Beginner friendly and open to all levels, this gentle and energizing yoga flow of...

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