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Center instills love of nature in CFWE student

By April 3, 2024April 24th, 2024No Comments

Michael Buckman, manager of the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center (KPNC), says the mission of the center most basically is “to instill a sense of stewardship or passion of nature” in people.

Max Nemeroff is the embodiment of that mission.

Michael Buckman (left) and Max Nemeroff (right)

KPNC Manager Michael Buckman (left) and CFWE student and KPNC Caretaker Max Nemeroff at the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center.

Currently a College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment (CFWE) student, Nemeroff has been a patron of the KPNC since he can remember, now working as its caretaker.


Nemeroff participated in KPNC’s summer camps every summer until he was 13 years old, the cutoff age. He still wanted to be involved with the KPNC, so he started as a counselor-in-training (CIT), volunteered as a summer camp assistant and later served as a counselor.

Nemeroff now works at KPNC as a caretaker; his responsibilities include land management, facilities and equipment maintenance, animal care and environmental education. He appreciates having a job that is outdoors with a flexible schedule.

“Max’s time in various capacities at KPNC, from camper to CIT to counselor, taught him so much about the center and preserve that if anyone needs to know anything about the details of our operation, Max has that knowledge,” said Buckman.

KPNC is an outreach program of CFWE, the area’s only nature center enabling people to connect with nature and providing environmental educational resources and programs to visitors and students alike.


Louise Kreher Turner and her husband, Frank Allan Turner, donated 119 acres of forest land to CFWE in 1993 to ensure the acreage would become a nature preserve and educational resource for years to come.

Last year, KPNC leadership celebrated the center’s 30th anniversary, demonstrating the gift of property has fulfilled the Turner’s original intent.

KPNC, fully accessible year-round, comprises seven natural habitats and six miles of trails and serves more than 35,000 visitors per year, with 10,000-12,000 being program participants. It is open seven days a week, from dawn to dusk with free admission.

“We want to get as many community members as possible to know and understand nature in a way that helps them perceive why it is so wonderful and why it is worth keeping and protecting,” said Buckman.

“We want them to fall in love with nature.”


A new environmental education building, which is under construction with an anticipated late July completion, will significantly impact Auburn, CFWE, KPNC and the greater community, Buckman said. It will be the only building like it at the university, plus the first nature center building of its kind in the region.

The center will be free and open to the public, and Buckman anticipates a strong amount of engagement through the center, which offers the potential of a nature-based kindergarten-through-fifth-grade program and afterschool programming.


Auburn students interested in volunteering or working at the KPNC can contact the center directly or join IMPACT on AU Involve.

If you are interested in volunteering or working as an environmental educator, contact Sarah Crim at

If you are interested in grounds maintenance at the nature center, contact Michael Buckman at

If you would like to support the KPNC’s programs or the construction of the Environmental Education Building, contact Heather Crozier at

(Written by Amy Burtch)

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