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Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter welcomes new executive director

Lewis Kogan, Executive Director at Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter
Lewis Kogan, Executive Director at Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter

The Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter has named Lewis Kogan as its new executive director. He replaces former director Nell Larson, who left the EcoCenter last fall.

Lewis Kogan started his new job April 1. He was born and raised in Missoula, MT where he says he fell in love early on with the outdoors.

“I had folks who dragged me and my brother out every single weekend into the mountains,” Kogan said. “We'd come down here to Utah and explore the desert every spring.”

Full interview: New Swaner Executive Director Lewis Kogan

When starting his professional career, he first worked for Missoula’s Five Valleys Land Trust doing private lands conservation. He also spent several years working for the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger.

Kogan's most recent position was working for the Salt Lake City Corporation in the public lands department. When his son was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, he stepped aside and became a stay-at-home dad for a couple of years. Once his son had stabilized, he was ready for a new challenge.

He brought his children to the preserve last fall when he learned that Nell was leaving.

“Part of Swaner’s mission is to work to nurture both the natural environment and the connections that people have with the natural environment," Kogan said. "And I think it is that thing that the way that people feel connected and a part of the ecosystem that really gets me going.”

He says his first tour of the preserve last week was amazing.

“You can walk out on the boardwalk and with your naked eye, just a few feet away, you can watch nesting sandhill cranes,” he said." That is so rare. It is something special to see these crazy dinosaur-like birds, nesting and calling to each other. I saw a bull elk out there and 20 cow elk. I saw probably over a dozen pairs of sandhill cranes that are pairing off and getting ready to nest. So much bird life, so much wildlife. It's really incredible.”

The sandhill crane cam is back on and shows a pair of cranes as they tend their nest waiting for their eggs to hatch in the next few weeks. You can see the link to the camera in the web version of this story.

Also, this Saturday, on Earth Day, April 20, a Kimball Junction clean-up will be taking place from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Click here to register.