Hero of the Month

Matt Kern

Our latest Wild Hero is Matt Kern, President of the Friends Board of Directors July 2014-June 2016. 
Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, Matt and his family moved to the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee where they managed a 30-acre farm. After graduating from Western Carolina University, Matt relocated to Asheville. “Having grown up in western North Carolina, I hold dear the wildlife diversity that exists here. The Nature Center represents this diversity, educating local (and visiting) children and adults on our native animals and plants,” he says. 
Matt has served on the Friends Board of Directors for five years, serving for two of those years as the president. He was recruited for his construction knowledge to help implement the 2020 Vision, a strategic plan for the WNC Nature Center’s future. As President, Matt chaired the Board of Directors, working closely with the Friends Executive Director and coordinating with the City of Asheville. 
Working with dedicated Board members, passionate volunteers and supportive staff members has been a rewarding experience. For Matt, working alongside people with a passion to support the Nature Center has been his favorite part of his positon. He appreciates working with others who have a similar vision of success and a goal to help the Nature Center reach its full potential.
With every reward comes a challenge. During his time on the Board, Matt has worked to improve communication and teamwork between the Friends and the City. When asked what he feels most passionate about, Matt says, “that we all work together in a timely manner to reach our goals.” Communication is key! 
Five years on the Friends Board has provided Matt with many memorable experiences and accomplishments. He is especially proud of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority grant of $313,000 which was successfully matched by the Friends. He is also excited for the 3-year Memorandum of Understanding with the city of Asheville and “feeling like we have a good partner.” 
As the Friends President, Matt has gained insight on successful nonprofit development. For anyone interested in becoming involved with the Friends or other non-profits, Matt gives his advice: “Be passionate about the Center and the animals and the potential of the place. Do your research and know what you’re getting into and then dedicate your time to being involved as much as you can. Successful Boards are not for the lazy!” 
In addition to his work with the Friends, Matt has also served with Culture Recreation Authority and Mountain Area Child and Family Center. He is a 6th generation Home Builder who started his own residential construction company, M.C. Kern Contracting, Inc. When it comes to hobbies, Matt enjoys the outdoors and traveling! You can typically find him outside gardening or spending time in the woods. He is also a family man who loves “hanging out with his two boys.” 
Matt leaves us with this closing statement: “I am honored to have served on the Friends Board with such dedicated people as the ones who are currently on the Board. We have been through some tough times and some really good times together.  Because of our hard work, this is an exciting time to be on the Friends Board.” 
The Friends and the Nature Center are fortunate to have dedicated volunteers and Board members like Matt Kern. To learn more about volunteering with the Friends or the Nature Center, visit www.wildwnc.org or email americorps@wildwnc.org.
Fun Fact:
Matt’s favorite animal at the Nature Center is a fox!
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