The Great Plains Nature Center is losing its second director in two years as Lorrie Beck has announced that she will retire Dec. 31.
Beck took over as director of the center when Bob Gress retired in 2012. She had worked at the center since 2001 as a park ranger and naturalist, and has been with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 21 years.
That agency is the federal arm of the three agencies that run the center; the others are the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and Wichita’s Park and Recreation Department.
Beck said she’s leaving to take care of her mother full time at a time when the center is being talked about nationally. The three-pronged leadership of the center earned it a Partners in Conservation Award from the Department of the Interior last year.
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Earlier this year Beck was selected from among more than 9,000 Fish and Wildlife employees to receive a Legends Award from the American Recreation Coalition.
A plan has been developed to renovate the center’s Koch Habitat Hall and build an addition, Beck said, but $2 million is needed to implement it.
“Plans are in place for some really exciting things in the future,” she said.
The search for a new director has begun among the three agencies that run the nature center.