1973

Community Nature Center Opens

Springing from the vision of Prescott Unified School District superintendent Dr. Ken Walker, the Community Nature Center of Prescott is created on Williamson Valley Road next to the new Granite Mountain Middle School. Dr. Henry Dahlberg is the project director.

1973

Community Nature Center Opens

1990

Community Nature Center Closes

The Community Nature Center is closed for a short time due to lack fo funding from the Prescott Unified School district.

1990

Community Nature Center Closes

1991

Community Nature Center Reopens

CNC reopened with it's new director, Nichole Trushell and a group of volunteers. At the time 8 schools were being served with educational programming.

1991

Community Nature Center Reopens

1994

Exploring Growth

In order to expand it's operations, discussions began on the feasibility of forming a new organization and moving to a larger site. During this time classes were expanded from Prescott to Chino Valley, Prescott Valley and Dewey School districts.

1994

Exploring Growth

September 18, 1995

Highlands Center for Natural History files for Incorporation

On September 18, 1995, the articles of incorporation for the Highlands Center for Natural History were filed with Arizona and HCNH became an official non-profit organization. The Highlands Center was now a separate entity from the Community Nature Center.

September 18, 1995

Highlands Center for Natural History files for Incorporation

1996

Searching for a Home

Several sites were taken into consideration during this time to be the new home for the Highlands Center.

1996

Searching for a Home

1996

An Official 501-c3

The IRS grants the Highlands Center official 501c3 status as a non-profit, allowing individuals, businesses and corporations to receive a tax deduction for their contributions.

1996

An Official 501-c3

March 22, 1997

A New Mission

The Highlands Center's mission statement was adopted: to help children and adults dsicover the wonders of nature and become wise caretakers of the land. Everyone has a fundamental need to connect with the natural world. This connection is fostered by the Highlands Center through outdoor programs based on observation and discovery of the Central Arizona Highlands.

March 22, 1997

A New Mission

February 12, 1997

Special Use Submitted

The special use permit for the Lynx Creek site was submitted to the Prescott National Forest along with a conceptual site plan.

February 12, 1997

Special Use Submitted

February 6, 1998

Site use Granted

The Prescott National Forest announces their pre-decision to grant the site now occupied from Walker Road to Lynx Creek.

February 6, 1998

Site use Granted

1999

Planning and Fundraising Begins

Planning and fundraising for facilities on the Lynx Creek site begin.

1999

Planning and Fundraising Begins

2001

FUN! Nature Camps

Under the direction of Fiona Reid the Highlands Center introduces its summer nature camp which brought children onto the Lynx Creek site for an outdoor nature day camp experience.

2001

FUN! Nature Camps

2003

Knee High Naturalists

In 2003, the Coyote Walking program begins, bringing preschool aged children outside into nature for educational programming with their parents. In April 2007, the program was reimagined and Knee High Naturalists was implemented at the Lynx Creek site.

2003

Knee High Naturalists

2004

A Stage to Call Home

Hiking trails, the Kiwanis Amphitheater, and restrooms are completed at the Lynx Creek site, wrapping up Phases I and II of construction. Classes begin using the new facilities and trails and the prior Williamson Valley site is vacated.

2004

A Stage to Call Home

2004

Bringing Nature into Schools and Students Outside

In August of 2004, the Highlands Center begins it's first Schoolyard Habitat project at Coyote Springs Elementary School in Prescott Valley. This three year partnership creates an outdoor, nature learning space on the school grounds and leaves a school with the tools, lessons and outdoor space to continue nature learning into the future.

2004

Bringing Nature into Schools and Students Outside

May 2006

Growing Native

Grow Native Plant Sale 2019

In May of 2006, the Highlands Center launches the Grow Native! Plant Sale. The sale highlights the benefits of using native and regionally-adapted plant species for home landscaping. It continues with a spring and fall version today.

May 2006

Growing Native

2007

A Center for Learning

The James Learning Center is completed and opens at the Lynx Creek site, offering a large classroom, offices, a library, a kitchen, and a bookstore. It is recognized as the first ever building in Yavapai County to earn a Gold rating from the U.S. Green Council LEED program.

2007

A Center for Learning

January, 2008

A New Era

Dave Irvine New Executive Director

Dave Irvine becomes the Executive Director upon the retirement of Nichole Trushell.

January, 2008

A New Era

Fall 2008

Take a Hike!

Take a HIke

The annual Hiking Spree is introduced to encourage people of all ages to get outdoors and “Take a Hike!” Participants who attempt eight or more hikes are eligible for a raffle and may purchase a medallion to commemorate their accomplishments.

Fall 2008

Take a Hike!

Sept 2009

Wander the Wild Begins!

To fund it’s ever increasing educational offerings, the Highlands Center begins an annual live auction and dinner, Wander the Wild, at Juniper Well Ranch. Proceeds directly funded School Field Trips by local elementary schools to the Highlands Center. The auction has grown over time into a a hybrid online and live event which features local, regional, national and international experiences and destinations, educational opportunities, and nature-inspired art by local artists.

Sept 2009

Wander the Wild Begins!

2011

Highlighting the Highlands

Discovery Gardens Plan

Planning begins on the design and creation of an ADA accessible native garden, the Discovery Gardens, to bring the wonders of the Central Highlands to a wider audience, including youngsters, seniors, and those with mobility challenges.

2011

Highlighting the Highlands

June 2014

Shakespeare's Midsummer Magic

The first presentation of Shakespeare in the Pines occurs at the Highlands Center's amphitheater with two performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream by LAARK Productions. Shakespeare performances have become an annual event in partnership with LAARK Productions who creatively adapt the selected plays to reflect unique aspects of the location in the pines.

June 2014

Shakespeare's Midsummer Magic

October 2015

Discovery Gardens Groundbreaking

Key shareholders - from the Prescott National Forest, to civic leaders, designers, and donors - join Dave Irvine, HC Executive Director, as shovels hit the ground and the vision of the Discovery Gardens begins to take physical form.

October 2015

Discovery Gardens Groundbreaking

2018

Two times the fun

Two additional school field trip programs are introduced: Rock Detectives for third grade students, and the Senses Field Trip is introduced for kindergarten students. Over 2000 kindergarten through 5th grade students are served annually during the school year.

2018

Two times the fun

December 2018

Accessibility from Car to Trail

In December of 2018, the Highlands Center's parking lot paving project is completed, creating an accessible experience from the car to the Learning Center, the Amphitheater, and through the five acre Discovery Gardens.

December 2018

Accessibility from Car to Trail

August 2020

New Restroom for All

The new restroom in the Discovery Gardens is completed, providing convenient facilities and changing stations in close proximity to the children's play area, the Ramada and those walking the winding paver trails.

August 2020

New Restroom for All

October 2020

Art in Nature and Nature in Art

The first annual Prescott Plein Air Art Festival is held in partnership with the City of Prescott. The festival showcases the works of 13 professional plein air artists as they capture the magnificence of Prescott's landscape, and historic and architectural beauty.

October 2020

Art in Nature and Nature in Art