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The Friends of Hemlock Bluffs is a volunteer based non-profit, support organization created to further the mission, environmental education programs and facilities at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve. Members provide financial support, volunteer assistance and aid in promoting the nature preserve and nature center as valuable community resources.



Who We Are

What We Do

Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

Get Involved

Contact Us

Town of Cary Links

2014 National Trails Day

On June 7, 2014, 75 volunteers joined with the staff of Hemlock Bluffs, REI and members of the Friends of Hemlock Bluffs for the annual National Trails Day Volunteer Workday. Volunteers mulched Chestnut Oak Loop Trail, re-graveled a portion of the Swift Creek Loop Trail stairs, picked up trash along the Swift Creek Loop Trail, cut bamboo, and worked in the native wildflower gardens. This was a wonderful way to celebrate the recent REI grant received by the Friends of Hemlock Bluffs.  A huge thank you to all of the volunteers, including; Boy Scout Troop 316 and members of Cary Teen Council, who joined us for National Trails Day this year. The Friends of Hemlock Bluffs helped by providing new work gloves for the staff and volunteers to use, as well as lunch and snacks on National Trails Day. 

Maya's Project

This May, Maya Sproelich completed her Girl Scout Gold Award project, renovating the compost education area behind the classroom at the Stevens Nature Center. The Friends of Hemlock Bluffs helped to fund Maya's renovations, which included building two new compost bins, installing a new educational bulletin board, and creating decorative stepping stones for the walkway. Maya concluded by hosting an informational table on compost in the nature center courtyard and provided compost starter kits to interested visitors. Maya used her remaining funds to donate a new tumbling composter to the demonstration area.  The staff have already fielded many visitor questions about the compost bins and composting in general due to the compost area renovations.  What a great investment.  Congratulations on achieving your Gold Award, Maya!  




Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

Assist staff in ongoing trail and preserve projects. Bring work gloves and wheel barrows if you have them. You can pre-register through the Town of Cary. Call (919) 387-5980 or visit




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Place Your Order for a Custom Engraved Paver!

Memories and Messages Saved in Stone

With a $35 donation, you can save those special memories, messages or dedications to that special person in stone. This personalized concrete paver will be a lasting symbol for years of enjoyment. Engraved Pavers make a unique gift idea. Order your paver today!

Paver Dedication

Our Fall paver dedication ceremony is November 2, 2014!  Get in your paver order today to be a part of this event!

REI Grant

We are thrilled to announce that REI has awarded another $10,000 grant to the Friends of Hemlock Bluffs for use at Hemlock Bluffs for further trail improvement projects. This year on National Trails Day (June 7, 2014), representing REI, Nick Cross presented a check to Laura White, Nature Center Supervisor, Tullie Johnson, Friends of Hemlock Bluffs Past President, and Doug McRainey, Town of Cary PRCR Director.  The big project this funding will kick-start is the creation of a Children's Nature Trail. We hope that this new trail will help young children foster their love of nature during their visis to Hemlock Bluffs. The goal is to create a less strenuous, safe, and interactive trail for parents and children to enjoy together.

2014 Grant


Donation of iPad

The Friends of Hemlock Bluffs have provided the preserve staff with an iPad to use in their many educational programs; the iPad is equipped with a data plan, and is backed with Geek Squad Protection. We purchased a LifeProof case for the staff to put the iPad in so that they are able to use the device at the creek and throughout the preserve in order to identify and catalog the many species of plants, trees, insects and animals the participants encounter in the field. A subscription to Amazon Prime was also purchased to allow staff access to a multitude of free science films and documentaries that can be shown to program participants.




On the Right Path to Board Development: The Friend’s Board Creates a Strategic Plan, 2013

Your Friends of Hemlock Bluffs Board of Directors spent the winter working to create a Strategic Plan for the future of the Friends. Christina Hester applied for the Every Day 2012 Grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation for the purpose of developing a strategic plan for the Friends of Hemlock Bluffs, and was awarded $4,980 to pay for a consultant to facilitate the sessions and serve as consultant. After a thorough search, the Board selected the True North Consulting Company, headed by David Halley.

The all-day sessions were well-attended by Board members and the managing Staff of Hemlock Bluffs: Tullie Johnson, Christina Hester, Meg Ketron, Joanne Wainwright, Joyce Wester, Jim Mason, Laura White and Mark Johns. The meetings were held at the Middle Creek Community Center in January, the Cary Senior Center in February, and at the Stevens Nature Preserve in March.

Consultant David Halley used standard business processes and tools to compile our vision for the organization. We started with a broad array of possibilities and narrowed them down to a practical plan. Many topics were discussed exhaustively, including: needs of the Preserve, the role of the Friends, increasing membership, fundraising, grant-writing, scholarship provisioning, amending bylaws, and board development. The resultant decision were always determined by a consensus vote, and we were all satisfied with the practical results.

We had several choices as to the direction of the group and all were widely discussed. At the conclusion of the exercise, it was unanimously agreed that our Friends of Hemlock Bluffs Board of Directors requires a more robust number of personnel in order to continue effectively. For the many exciting activities ahead, we need more people. Our primary focus for the coming year will be to develop the Board by adding active and diverse Board Members. By doing so, we believe that we will re-invigorate the organization, and become more viable.

The first order of business of our Strategic Plan is to nominate a slate of potential new Board Members. We will approach them individually and for those who apply and accept, we will train them through an orientation class, and provide them with a “New Board Member Packet.” Our goal is to bring them up to speed quickly, so that they can contribute to the group very soon.

Our next goal in the Strategic Plan is to organize and build up our committee structure: Membership, Fundraising, Scholarship, Finance, and the like. Most of the “work” should be done by these committees, which will be led by Board Members, but will also include Friends members, advisors, and any one needed. Some committees may be short-lived and single-project focused; others, (such as Finance) will be standing committees.

After we have staffed and trained the Board, and after our committees are established, we can continue on with fundraising, providing scholarships, and supporting the Staff and activities of the Stevens Nature Center at the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve. We could not have gotten through this importance process without the financial support from the NEEF and the Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., who helps to fund these grant opportunities!


2013 Board of Directors



Stevens Nature Center Celebrates 20 Years!

A formal celebration was held at the Stevens Nature Center on May 8th, 2013 to recognize 20 years of public service that the nature center and its staff have served the Town of Cary and its citizens. Town officials, Parks and Recreation administrators, members of the Friends of Hemlock Bluffs, Nature Center staff and preserve visitors were taken back 20 years to the early stages of the center and enlightened to the present from how much the facility has grown and developed over the year to the number of visitors it hasimpacted and educated along the way. Laura White was recognized for her 20 years of service during the ceremony, along with Tullie Johnson for her 20 years of volunteer service at the Stevens Nature Center and the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve. A stone rabbit and bird bath adorn the gardens at the nature center in their honor.LauraDedication




For the latest news about the Friends of Hemlock Bluffs, check out our 2014 Friends Newsletter.

For previous news, check out last year's Friends Newsletter.

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Who We Are


In the 1970's, a group was formed to protect the land known today as Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve. With lots of determination and hard work, the Hemlock Bluffs Preservation Society was successful in their plan to protect the nature preserve under the jurisdiction of the State of North Carolina. In 1995, the Cary Women's Club provided infrastructure and officers to create a support organization for the Preserve and the Stevens Nature Center. The founding members of the Hemlock Bluffs Preservation Society approached the Cary Women's Club and suggested that they use the original group name and articles of incorporation, since the group had never officially disbanded. With the consistent support of the Cary Women's Club, the Hemlock Bluffs Preservation Society funded exhibits, resources and equipment, and support for the organization grew.

In 2001, the board adopted the name "Friends of Hemlock Bluffs" to emphasize the group's mission of supporting the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve and its environmental education efforts.

Today, the Friends' support efforts have expanded to include many exciting programs and activities. Below you can see the "What We Do" section for more details on these, or go to "Get Involved" to find out how you can help support the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve.


President: Christina Sorensen Hester
President-Elect: Jim Mason
Past President: Tullie Johnson
Treasurer: Jim Mason
Secretary: Christina Sorensen Hester

Other Board Members

Fundraising Committee: Jim Mason (Chair), Tullie Johnson, Martha Flanagan, Erin Nicholson

Membership Committee: Christina Hester (Chair), Joyce Wester, Rob Trickel

Social, Scholarship and Paver Committee: Joyce Wester

Cary Teen Council Representatives: Amanda Reza and Sindhura Maale

Nature Center Staff Representatives: Mark Johns (Program Director), Nature Center Supervisor - Vacant

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What We Do


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The Friends provide financial and volunteer support to Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve and the Stevens Nature Center. Some of our past accomplishments include:

  • Funding of the "hands-on" educational exhibits in the Stevens Nature Center exhibit hall.
  • Funding of resources and equipment for environmental education programs.
  • Sponsorship of special events and conservation projects. Funded garden art pieces created by Jeffrey Hurr of Iron Innovations, Inc. to beautify the nature center courtyard.

Exhibit Hall Update

The Stevens Nature Center has experienced many changes since the New Year. One of the biggest changes that came to the Stevens Nature Center was the closing of the Nature’s Niche Gift shop. Closed at the end of 2013, this area will now be converted into much needed staff workspace. The Nature Center will still continue selling bottled water, which is provided by the Friends of Hemlock Bluffs.  The Friends of Hemlock Bluffs also provided a generous donation of $9,200 in order to update the middle section of the exhibit hall in the Stevens Nature Center. The donation, along with nature photography provided by Bill Stice, assisted in the design of new Seasonal Wall displays.


On-Going Projects

Sale and installation of engraved pavers in the Courtyard. Complete your paver order form today!

Funding and selection of scholarship winners. More information on scholarships is available.


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Get Involved


There are many ways you can get involved with the Friends of Hemlock Bluffs. Click on the links below for more information about purchasing an engraved paver and volunteering.

Engraved Pavers

Grants in Action

Become a Member!

We're always happy to welcome the interest and participation of new members. Membership contributions are tax-deductible within legal limits, and renew each January. Your Friends of Hemlock Bluffs membership will provide the following benefits:

  • Enjoy the friendship and fun by participating in volunteer opportunities
  • Get involved with and/or generate ideas for projects and events
  • Receive our newsletter
  • Attend our Paver Dedications and other social events
  • FOHB members receive a 10% discount on nature programs.

Membership Options:

  • Senior Citizen - $10.00
  • Individual - $15.00
  • Family - $25.00
  • Patron - $50.00
  • Sustaining - $100.00
  • Benefactor - $500.00
  • Life Membership - $1,000.00

Register your membership by paying online through PayPal: (NEW!)

Membership Options
(Clicking on the button below takes you to the PayPal website.)

Alternatively, membership forms are available at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve or you can download a PDF version. Mail in form with membership donation to:

Friends of Hemlock Bluffs
PO Box 62 Cary, NC 27512-0062

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Contact Us

We'll be happy to answer your questions about our organization!

We are most easily reached via e-mail. One of our board members will respond to your message as soon as possible. Thank you!

Send inquiries about the Friends of Hemlock Bluffs to:

Please direct questions about Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, volunteering with your group and participating in the nature programs to


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Town of Cary Links

Follow the links below to official Town of Cary webpages:

Town of Cary Homepage

Town of Cary Internet Program Registration


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Friends of Hemlock Bluffs:  Walk…Listen…Observe…Photograph…Sketch…Commune…Discover…Hemlock Bluffs
Website Designed By: Julie Coco
Last updated: October 13, 2014