Thunder Bay River Center

Alpena, Michigan

Mission and Vision

     The mission of the Thunder Bay River Center is to preserve, protect & interpret the Thunder Bay River Watershed.
The River Center aims to promote the economic vitality & ecological integrity of the Thunder Bay River Watershed's five counties (Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency, Oscoda, Presque Isle)  through education, research & environmental stewardship.  It is the guardian of the Thunder Bay River Watershed, a center for research, an institute for environmental education, a showcase for green technology, & a hub for ecologically sustainable outdoor recreation.

     The Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary Board's original vision remains to construct a state of the art, interpretive nature center that flawlessly provides STEAM (science, technology, education, art, and math) education for all ages.  It is vital that Northeast Michigan has a place that allows people of all ages to celebrate its industrial past and learn about how humans impact the local ecosystems.  To that end, the board fostered the creation of the 501(c)(3) Thunder Bay River Center, Inc. whose board's role is to carry out the plan to build and sustain the River Center.

Together with its community partners, the Thunder Bay River Center will help people restore/preserve the healthy ecosystem of the Thunder Bay River Watershed.  To do this, interactive exhibits involving water quality, dam placement/removal, invasive species control, promotion of native river fish & supporting food sources will lead the participant into the outdoor laboratory, Island Park & the Thunder Bay River itself.  Many of Thunder Bay River Center's programs are guided by educational standards for science, technology, engineering, arts & math (STEAM)-tools desired by employers & needed by everyone in order to work & function.

The Thunder Bay River Center, with its multiple partnerships of people, businesses & industries, will be an attraction to the more than 400,000 tourists who visit the area each year.  Its unique combination of ADA compliant indoor-outdoor experience-based activities will make the River Center a destination for tourists & entrepreneurs who seek not only to learn more about the water, woods & communities of Northeast Michigan, but how a collaborative effort benefits the entire community.  With its focus on the Thunder Bay River Watershed's ecosystems, the Center's programs will complement both the Besser Museum's historical & cultural history of Northeast Michigan & the National Marine Sanctuary focus on the shipwrecks & ecosystem of Lake Huron.

Thunder Bay River Center Board Members

Judy Kalmanek, Chair

Danny Mitchell, Vice Chair

Bill Haase, Treasurer

Susan Szczukowski, Secretary

Brian Bartosh

Beverly Bodem

Tim Cwalinski

Meag Schwartz

Roger Witherbee 


This donate button will direct you to Northland Federal Credit Union where you can give generously to help make the Thunder Bay River Center a reality for our community!