BOERNE, Texas—A book about how to create nature centers – written by Brent Evans and Carolyn Chipman Evans based on their experiences in founding Boerne’s Cibolo Nature Center – will soon be available to readers in Japan and China and is being translated into the native languages of those two countries.
First published as “How to Create a Nature Center in Your Community” in 1998 by the University of Texas Press, the book was updated with new information and published again in 2004 by the National Association for Interpretation's InterpPress with a new title, “The Nature Center Book: How to Create and Nurture a Nature Center in Your Community.” It received first place in the NAI’s Media Award Competition, and the authors earned an Imagineer Award from the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio for the book.
About two years ago, the Evanses were contacted by Mikihiko Yamamoto of Hokkaido, Japan, who expressed interest in translating The Nature Center Book into Japanese, said Carolyn Chipman Evans. “He had seen it in a visit to Vancouver, and loved it,” she said.
Yamamoto is executive director of the non-profit Tobetsu Ecological Community in Japan and has operated a school for children at the Forest Study Center in Japan’s Hokkaido Citizens Forest. “Here was a kindred spirit,” she added. “The name of his school was The Wonder School, after Rachel Carson’s idea about the importance of a sense of the wonder of nature.”
Yamamoto traveled to Boerne to spend time at the Cibolo Nature Center as well as with the Evanses at their home, and the three became friends. They have corresponded frequently, and Yamamoto recently completed the Japanese translation. The Japanese publisher is Jinbun Shoin, with publication expected in October.
Yamamoto said that the title of the book and a comment by Brent Evans in the introduction provided part of his inspiration to translate it to Japanese. Evans, who is a social worker, wrote: "I am proof that you do not need to be a naturalist to start a nature center. I have a learning disability I call 'dysbotnia' – I have a hard time remembering names of plants.”
“When I read that, I thought, yes, I was same as Brent,” Yamamoto said. “But also, I think that most of the nature centers in Japan are intended as visitor centers for tourists as opposed to a resource for the community.”
In contrast, “The Nature Center Book” makes the case for nature centers as a resource for enhancing community life. It details the Evanses’ personal account of founding the Cibolo Nature Center and offers step-by-step instructions for creating and maintaining such a facility. It also describes various other nature centers and explores facility options and program possibilities. The revised edition provides updated information and resources, an expanded discussion of key topics, and outlines lessons learned since the first edition and important new developments in the field.
“This Japanese edition of this book is coming at a challenging and heartbreaking time in Japan, after the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant disaster,” Brent Evans said. “We sincerely hope that the concepts we present might help families in Japan find quiet refuges for healthy recreation, a reason to hope for the future, and the tools to make their hopes become their future.”
Recently, when Yamamoto visited the World Wildlife Fund headquarters in Beijing, he showed “The Nature Center Book” to a Chinese university professor named Huang Yu. Yu, a faculty member at Beijing Normal University, subsequently sought and obtained permission from the Evanses to translate their book into Chinese.
“Both Huang and Mikihiko want us to travel to Japan and Beijing next May,” Carolyn Chipman Evans said. “They feel that the message of the book is international, local and universal.”
“Every community and every nation on Earth struggles with unique environmental challenges,” added Brent Evans. “Perhaps our experiences with the Cibolo Nature Center will inspire other local citizens take it upon themselves to create nature centers that build a sense of community and promote respect for nature.”
The Cibolo Nature Center in Boerne is located on 100 acres of natural lands at Boerne City Park and 62 acres at the Herff-Rozelle Historic Farm. The Cibolo Nature Center’s mission is conservation of natural resources through education and stewardship. Call (830) 249-4616 or visit www.cibolo.org.