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Caledonia Resident Named River Bend Executive Director

The former director of the Small World Montessori School, Jeanne Dernehl, is now leader of the River Bend Nature Center.

A Caledonia resident has been hired as the new executive director of the River Bend Nature Center.

Jeanne Dernehl was most recently the director of the Small World Montessori School in Racine and has also been co-director of Discovery World in Milwaukee.

She has extensive business start-up experience and a strong commitment to environmental education, according to a River Bend news release.

"We are very happy and very pleased to announce the hiring of Jeanne Dernehl to lead our staff, volunteers and our organization,” said Roger Chernik, president of the board of directors.

Added board member Michelle Gabor: "This community will quickly come to learn what a great choice Jeanne is as River Bend's executive director."

In an interview, Dernehl said she considers her new position a natural fit based on her experience.

She says her immediate focus is on bringing public awareness back to River Bend, noting a lot of work has gone into renovating the facility. The organization is in the process of mapping out its future schedule, with many school groups already booked for tours, Dernehl said.

Dernehl, who's been on the job for about a week, will also lead a group of about 130 volunteers who help provide education and recreation opportunities to Racine County residents.

"They have a fantastic group of dedicated volunteers," Dernehl said.

Last year, Racine County purchased the River Bend property and entered into a long-term lease to manage all operations.

River Bend had been searching for a new executive director since Linda Cieslik resigned in September shortly after she started.

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