Focus on Growing Leaders: Taking Charge Naturally
An environmental director oversees an expanding organization thanks to FVTC.
Randy Tuma, a 1999 Natural Resources graduate from Fox Valley Technical College, has put his education to use by managing one of the region’s best-known conservation organizations—the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve. The nonprofit Appleton gem features 700 acres of diverse land, and it underwent a name change this past summer to become the Fox Cities Environmental Learning Campus.
The new name coincides with a recent $5 million expansion project. The 39-year-old Random Lake native is excited about the additions and underscores the importance of a great staff. “Our staff currently consists of 14 individuals,” he says. “They include mission-critical staff like a program coordinator/naturalist, fundraisers and an event manager.”
Tuma is a natural outdoorsman, so it was a great fit to attend FVTC. “Fox Valley Tech laid the foundation for my success in both environmental knowledge and people skills,” he says. “Technical skills are important but so are solid leadership capabilities.”
After graduating from FVTC, Tuma worked at two nature preserves until joining Bubolz in 2008 as its property manager and naturalist. Two years later he became executive director. Under his leadership, the preserve’s offerings continue to expand. Traditional programs like wilderness survival and a maple syrup immersion are now complemented by a host of new amenities. “The new campus gives us more ways to fund our mission by providing rental space for company meetings and family gatherings as well,” he adds.
Tuma believes leaders are especially essential in the nonprofit sector. “Good leadership skills are vital in an industry with limited resources,” he says. “You need to know how to deal with people and encourage their involvement.”