Our Story

Through a partnership between the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department and the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation (ACNC), an Arizona non-profit, the South Mountain Environmental Education Center (SMEEC) has re-opened.

The facility is a hub for guests exploring the park/preserve that it calls home as well as a gathering place for the community to learn about plants, animals, natural history and the conservation needs of the Sonoran Desert. It also is a popular destination for school field trips.

Arizona Center for Nature Conservation advances the stewardship and conservation of animals and their habitats while providing experiences that inspire people and motivate them to care for the natural world.

We are leaders in improving people’s lives through interaction with nature, excelling in conservation, education, exhibition and recreation.

Our core values reflect the behaviors and attitudes that lead our interactions and decisions — helping us to achieve our mission. By following these core values we develop and foster positive relationships within our community, which will ensure the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation’s long-term success.

We encourage a spirit of cooperation and teamwork by working together to build supportive relationships to meet our common goals.

We demonstrate compassion and service for each other and our guests, and ensure the highest standards of care for our animals.

We demonstrate integrity, fairness and professional standards, and are committed to managing and operating the organization as a credible, successful and self-sustaining enterprise.

We assess situations independently and look for solutions with a willingness to take appropriate action.

We are engaged in our work, bringing energy, enthusiasm and a desire to create enjoyable experiences for all.

Meet Our Team

ACNC and City of Phoenix Park Rangers partner to operate the facility. Together we are dedicated to helping park visitors have a wonderful experience connecting with nature and exploring the great cultural resource.


Gabby Hebert

Education Director

Gabby has been an environmental educator and non-formal science educator for her entire career. Her favorite thing about South Mountain is the generosity and gratitude expressed by the community that surrounds the park.


Lisa Herrmann

Education Manager

Lisa has worked in the field of environmental education as a classroom teacher, informal science educator, developer of science programming and curriculum, and as an environmental education advocate.

Lisa loves the evenings on the mountain – gazing at stars, walking in the light of the full moon, using the bat detector, and photo-hunting scorpions!


Lane Klassen

Programs Coordinator

Lane went to school for a bachelors degree in cultural geography and is currently finishing a graduate certificate in museum studies. Coming from a family of educators, she loves working with people to learn more about our Sonoran Desert. Her favorite thing is learning about the human history of the mountain over thousands of years and why people chose to live here.


Jesse Hogan

Programs Assistant

Jesse has been an educator for three years working with mainly children with autism. He has also worked with groups to run camp programs for all ages. Jesse has a master’s degree in Psychology and loves to bring his passion for psychology to his work here on the mountain.

Jesse’s favorite time on the mountain is sunset (golden hour), when the sun is setting just over the mountains.