News & Multimedia

Posted by: Dennis Hinkamp on Jan 22, 2014

Swaner EcoCenter Announces Changes

Writer: Julene Reese, 435-797-0810,

Contact: Nell Larson, 435-649-1767,


Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter Names New Director and Director of Development

           Nell Larson was recently named new director of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter in Park City and Jon Paulding was named the center’s director of development.

            Larson was previously the EcoCenter’s conservation director, where she focused on the restoration and management of the 1,200-acre nature preserve. As director, she will work closely with Swaner staff, advisory board members and Utah State University administration to develop Swaner's strategic direction. She will continue to direct the conservation programs at the Preserve. She earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and a master’s degree in environmental management with a focus on ecology from Yale University.

            As director of development, Paulding’s primary focus will be to secure financial support from individuals, foundations and corporations to help further the mission of the non-profit center. He earned a bachelor of art degree in psychology from Connecticut College and a master’s of social work from the University of Utah.

            The Swaner EcoCenter was given as a gift to USU in 2010 and has had an ongoing partnership with Utah State University Extension since that time. With the recent administrative changes, center personnel will now report to USU Extension Vice President Ken White.

            White praised the appointment of Larson and said he looks forward to the continued partnership with the center’s professionals who are striving to protect the land and teach good stewardship principles.

            “It’s my feeling that when we have the opportunity to partner with an impressive center like Swaner, it complements Extension’s land-grant mission to provide educational activities that enhance the quality of life for families and individuals in our state,” White said. “This also opens new opportunities to bring the strong portfolio of educational programming Extension provides to the Park City community.” 

           Extension’s mission is to extend the university’s reach throughout the state with its research-based, educational programs that enhance quality of life. Because of its partnerships throughout the state, Extension provides broad access to educational resources and programs, such as the Swaner EcoCenter, to help people learn about and connect with the natural world. Other Extension partners include the Utah State University Botanical Center in Kaysville, a 100-acre site dedicated to conservation, education, research and outreach; the Ogden Botanical Gardens, with a mission to promote inner-city beauty and educational opportunities through an outdoor classroom and many demonstration gardens; and Thanksgiving Point Institute, where hands-on discovery is delivered through innovative educational courses, day camps and field trips. Other Extension partners include Jordan Valley Conservation Garden Park and the Southern Utah Water Conservation Garden.

            “Partnering with USU Extension is a huge benefit to us, given our symbiotic missions and Extension’s strong history of research and educational outreach,” said Larson. “Swaner’s mission to preserve, educate and nurture will continue with a wonderful variety of programming for adults and 4-H youth, on-the-ground research and distance education. We look forward to 2014 and the new opportunities it will bring.” 

            For youth, Swaner offers programs such as summer camps, school field trips, a teen council and a Little Naturalists program for early learners. For families and adults, the center provides monthly lectures, weekly snowshoe and Preserve tours and a variety of college courses and degrees through USU’s Regional Campuses and Distance Education program. 

            The Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter consists of a 1,200-acre nature preserve in the Snyderville Basin and a 10,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility dedicated to environmental education. The EcoCenter was the first building in Utah to achieve the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum rating for new construction, with its energy, resource and water conservation features and elevated indoor air quality. The Swaner Preserve permanently protects more than 1,200 acres of open space including a historic farm, 800 acres of valuable wetlands, miles of streams and diverse wildlife habitat. The Preserve also includes nearly 10 miles of trails that are open to the public for hiking, biking and snowshoeing. 

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