Remembering VINS’ Recent Past

L to R: Linda Conrad, Lead, VINS Experience Navigator; Chris Collier, Director, On-Site Programs & Exhibits; Hannah Gelroth, Director, School Programs & Teacher Professional Development

What do you like about working at VINS that has kept you here for so many years?

LC: I love the people that I work with. I think we’re a good team, and we’re accepting of everyone’s new ideas. I also love working with the public and listening to their stories, especially during our private experiences.

CC: I appreciate the diversity of experiences that our staff brings together. We have built a culture of openness here and an interest in change and flexibility to make those changes for the better. I also enjoy connecting with staff and visitors who also share the love of the outdoors.

HG: I appreciate the ability to have creative license to craft programs in a way that utilizes our skills the best and change things to meet program needs. The freedom to be creative to develop something new is exciting. Passion looks different for each person in each department, but the passion we have and how it fits into the mission is unifying.

Do you have any memorable moments with our ambassador birds?

HG: I have a lot of fond memories of our education birds, like Bloomfield the Red-tailed hawk. Some of my favorite memories were flying her, and the sun coming through the red of her tail. I still remember feeling mesmerized watching her come to my glove and showing off her beauty.

CC: I got to work with some of the larger birds like the Golden and the Bald Eagles, they were massive. I’ve got pictures of me with the Golden jumping off of my glove. That was a pretty exciting experience!

What has changed over time at VINS?

LC: I remember when we first opened the Nature Center in Quechee, we thought 100 visitors was a good day, but last summer we were up to 600 visitors on any given day! We have reached new heights with our attendance thanks to our new exhibits, and programs, so many learning more and more about us.

When I started here, the summer camp was only held once per week, for seven weeks. There were two counselors, one of whom was my daughter, and we would reach maybe 60 kids in a summer. And now we’re reaching over 500!

We also just had a record number of 407 outreach programs serving our local community, verses 137 in 2016, an amazing accomplishment.

For the last ten years we cared for 300-500 birds annually at the Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation. This past year in 2021 we had more than 1,000 orphaned or ill birds! The community has driven that number and we are so grateful for the care and passion that these animals are getting.

VINS has touched a lot of lives, humans and birds alike!


  1. Sheryl Smith on May 26, 2022 at 10:24 am

    Enjoy reading the above, especially the interaction with birds. Keep up the wonderful work & little ‘tidbits’ of info like above! Enjoyed the Members Appreciation Day ~ was a lovely day & you did well on picking that day for the nice weather, too.

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