Snowflakes drifted to the ground almost in slow motion Wednesday at Lime Hollow Nature Center’s Environmental Education Center off Gracie Road in Cortlandville.
The only sound disrupting the stillness were children playing at the center’s Forest Preschool program.
This is the setting recently appointed Education Director Anthony Vicente has surrounded himself in since his appointment this fall.
“I’m super excited about it,” he said. “It’s kind of like my dream job, you could say.”
Vicente’s connection to Lime Hollow dates to 2012 when he first volunteered there, he said.
During his time, he helped with education programs with children.
Following the end of his time volunteering, Peter Harrity, the associate director of Lime Hollow, informed Vicente of an AmeriCorps position opening with Lime Hollow and encouraged Vicente to apply.
Vicente did and was accepted into the position, where he served as an education coordinator for 2013.
Following that, he left for a year, rejoined in 2015 when he came back to get his master’s degree in environmental and outdoor education at SUNY Cortland, he had worked in several positions since.
What kept Vicente attached to the center was his love of teaching children.
“I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed working with children and showing them what’s out here,” he said.
“Vicente really has this wonderful gift of connecting children to the natural world,” said Glenn Reisweber, Lime Hollow’s executive director.
Reisweber partially attributed that to Vicente’s age — 31 — making it easier to connect with children than Reisweber or other older staff.
In his new position, Vicente will translate goals from the center’s board of directors down to his staff for programming but can also step in to help with programs, Reisweber said.
With the coronavirus pandemic still impacting activities, Vicente said the biggest challenge he will have to work around will be keeping children safe, whether during the Forest Preschool or in the center’s summer camps. That will mean keeping children outside as much as possible.
He may also look at ways to grow the Forest Preschool and add programs.
Getting children outside and exploring local wildlife, though, will be the biggest goal he wants to achieve.
“A lot of schools do so much on what’s going on in the rain forest or what’s going on in other places but there’s so much happening here and so many kids are disconnected from that,” Vicente said.