" />

Floodplain Trail Closure: Fontenelle Forest’s Wetlands and Mink Trail at Neale Woods are closed due to flooding.

Floodplain Trail Closure: Fontenelle Forest’s Wetlands and Mink Trail at Neale Woods are closed due to flooding.

New leadership brings a renewed vision for the path forward

Looking ahead to Fontenelle Forest’s next 100 years – New leadership brings a renewed vision for the path forward

Picture of the boardwalk through trees in spring.Last year, Fontenelle Forest celebrated the 100-year anniversary of its first land purchase. This year, under the new leadership of Matt Darling, Fontenelle Forest’s new executive director, we look forward to the next 100 years with a renewed vision for the future. Together, leadership and staff are forging a new path back to our roots (yes, a new path… back to our roots).

You might be asking yourself, how can someone go forward and backward at the same time? We hear you… it’s a tricky concept…

Forging a new path doesn’t always mean moving forward towards something “bigger and better.” Sometimes it just means simplifying and rediscovering your true passion. The journey forward then becomes about looking within to find your core strengths and harnessing those strengths to create impactful, lasting change.

Picture looking up into the branches of a tall tree.Getting back to our roots

For the Forest, that means leaning into our core strengths of conservation, education, research, and recreation and embarking on a renewed effort to get back to our roots.

There is a quote by Meister Eckhart, an ancient academic theologian and philosopher, which seems appropriate for this chapter in Fontenelle Forest’s story. It reads, “And suddenly you just know it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

Now is that time for Fontenelle Forest. Just two short weeks ago, Matt Darling officially began his role as the new executive director of Fontenelle Forest and hit the ground running!

Matt sees what the future holds for Fontenelle Forest through new eyes and a fresh perspective. His energy and enthusiasm are infectious and a source of inspiration for Forest leadership and staff.

A picture of a family on a sunny day.About Matt Darling

Matt is a long-time Fontenelle Forest member, volunteer, and Master Naturalist. He has deep knowledge of and personal dedication to the organization’s core values of environmental stewardship and education.

Matt and his family have a true passion for the natural world and the mission of Fontenelle Forest, and they frequently enjoy spending time together exploring Neale Woods.
Matt also brings extensive nonprofit management, leadership, donor services, and business experience to the executive director role.

Please help us welcome Matt, his wife, Lizzy, and two sons, Max (age 5) and Charlie (age 2) to the Fontenelle Forest family.

Trusting in the magic of new beginnings

a picture of a new, young, small plant peaking out of the ground. It has six green flowers.Under Matt’s leadership, we are reenvisioning how to achieve our mission through the exploration of new ideas and opportunities that will allow us to “get back to our roots” and propel us forward at the same time.

We are challenging ourselves to think outside the box about how we can achieve that same powerful mission while reaching a wider and more diverse audience in new and innovative ways.

“I am very excited to join the Fontenelle Forest team,” Matt said. “We have an amazing group of dedicated staff, who are truly passionate about the mission of the Forest. Together, we are going to do some exciting things, and we are going to have a lot of fun doing them.”

We believe great things are in store for the Forest, and we invite you – our members, guests, and community partners – to go on this journey with us.

a picture of a women holding a small owl while two small children watch.

We look forward to seeing you soon

We often hear that Fontenelle Forest is a magical place. For those who have walked the dirt paths, absorbing the sights and sounds of nature’s creations and allowing each experience to regenerate your very soul… Well, you understand what this means.

We hope to see you and your family back soon, and often.

Discover the Forest for the first time

For those who have not yet visited the Forest, we invite you to do so.

Bask in the peacefulness of nature and allow yourself to absorb the beauty and tranquility that it offers. Stroll the boardwalk and take in views of the Missouri River.

Picture of a deer looking through foliage directly at you.Watch as your children, wide-eyed, make discoveries while playing in our one-acre natural playscape, Acorn Acres. Observe rescued birds of prey in a unique, tree-top environment in our Raptor Woodland Refuge.

And while you are here, stop by and say hello. Introduce yourself. Ask questions. Tell us your stories and share your Forest experiences.

We truly want to know because you, too, are part of the Fontenelle Forest family.

­Thank you for supporting Fontenelle Forest

Leadership and staff would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our board of directors, donors, community partners, members, volunteers, and guests, for your continued support during this time of transition.

Collectively, you form the true “roots” of the Forest, providing structural stability, nourishment, and growth. It is because of your support that Fontenelle Forest has been able to fulfill our mission for the past 100 years.

We look forward to seeing what the next 100 years will bring and hope you will join us on that journey.

Fontenelle Forest is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit.

Make a tax deductible donation NOW

Skip to content