A Sweet Goodbye

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG)  |  By Susan Maxwell Skinner
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Betty Cooper and Paul Tebbel (second and third from left) recently retired as executives for Carmichael’s Effie Yeaw Nature Center. Among goodbye gifts were paintings by artist David Peterson (left). The Nature Center’s new director (right) is Torey Byington.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Effie Yeaw Nature Center has bid farewell to two of its most senior staffers. Executives Paul Tebbel and Betty Cooper recently retired after long careers in natural history education.

Cooper (63) served the center for 23 years. When it lost county funding and settled under the wing of the American River Natural History Association in 2010, Cooper assumed a critical financial development role. “ARNHA took a giant leap of faith in taking us on,” she considered. “Continuing our operations required tripling their fundraising.  We all realized how much people loved this place. For more than 40 years, it’s provided education and tranquil space where you really can connect with wildlife.”

Cooper’s greatest success was in partnership with the Sacramento Fine Arts Center. The two non-profits came up with an “Art Where Wild Things Are” gala. In nine years of sipping wine and auctioning art, the event has become the most glamorous night of the Carmichael calendar. “Compared to our more family-oriented programs, this gala is elegant,” explains its organizer.  “We sell out almost every year. It’s great to see well-known artists, philanthropists and elected officials in our beautiful preserve. Fine food, fine art and fine people blend delightfully.”

Paul Tebbel (63) joined the Effie Yeaw staff in 2011. The new executive director’s biggest challenge was managing the transition of a County facility to a nonprofit. “We started from scratch in creating staffing and accounting systems,” he explains. “Most importantly, we had to rebuild public confidence. Many supporters thought we would close.  Our job was to convince them we were still in business. Thankfully, our members came back and provided the support that keeps us thriving. We would not have survived without hardworking ARNHA volunteers and our staff. Betty Cooper has been a fantastic co-leader. There’s nothing she can’t do.”

The retirees’ roles will be taken over Torey Byington, who previously directed a nature facility in Wayland, Michigan. Both Cooper and Tebbel plan to volunteer for future Nature Center projects. “Effie Yeaw and its programs are a great mission,” said Cooper. “The staff and volunteers are like family. That’s not something you can walk away from.”

Learn about the Nature center’s educational programs at www.sacnaturecenter.net