Hormel Nature Center’s director retires

Published 10:14 am Monday, June 6, 2016

By Jordan Gerard

AUSTIN — After 28 years of educating youth and adults alike, Jay C. Hormel Nature Center Director/Naturalist and teacher Larry Dolphin is retiring.

During a Park and Rec Board meeting Wednesday , he said he is looking forward to retirement. The board is currently taking applications for Dolphin’s position until June 17. They hope to have someone train with Dolphin the week of Aug. 22 and then go on their own after that.

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Five people will be on the interview panel, including Dolphin, Parks and Rec Director Kim Underwood, Human Resources Director Tricia Wiechmann, a Friends of the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center Board member and Parks and Rec Board member.

Dolphin said when he first started at the nature center, he said he could see himself staying there for a long time, and so it was.

“I love my job. It’s been a great job,” Dolphin said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything else in my life.”

He said though his plans were to teach primarily youth about the outdoors, he taught all ages and it was the special part of his job he enjoyed the most. He also supervised staff, wrote grants, took care of bills and invoices, developed a budget and a land plan for restoration.

Dolphin said he also enjoyed working with board members from the Friends of the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center and Parks and Rec.

“We added land that will be there forever and for families and youth to come and visit and learn about natural resources they could find here,” Dolphin said.

His other favorite part of the job was working with interns and helping them become students of nature, understand the value of working with kids and helping them learn about the natural world.

Dolphin said the decision to retire came with time, as he is going on 65 and “getting old,” he laughed.

“I know it’s in good hands,” Dolphin said. “I feel pretty good about all the work that’s going not here and we’re on schedule, plans are established, displays are being worked on.”

Though he is retiring, he added he will volunteer specifically for helping with the display work and if they needed help teaching in the future, he said he would be glad to help out.

“If there’s a need and they need help teaching or they can call on me and I can come in,” Dolphin said.

He said he’s excited to have more free time to go birdwatching, canoeing and fishing among other outdoor activities.

“It’s been a part of my life for a long time. It won’t be that easy,” Dolphin said.

But he said he’s ready to let go, though he may make special appearances to teach.

“I’ll still have the urge to come and teach,” Dolphin said. “I’ll have other things, freedom to do a lot of things, this job has been fairly consumptive, but it’s enjoyable work.”

Dolphin said he was thankful for a wonderful staff and boards to work with and the volunteers who helped out there also. He said it wasn’t about him, but all of the people who contribute to the nature center.

“It makes my job so much easier,” Dolphin said.

He said it’s for people to look at a computer and see something fun happening in nature, but seeing it live would mean so much more.

“Memories are made in the outdoors,” Dolphin said. “Find ways to take care of that.”