Through her professional and voluntary work, Nancy Oprsal has distinguished herself as an extraordinary friend and educator of children. As a teacher for 44 years, she has been constantly involved in educating children.
While teaching, Oprsal found time to volunteer at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, an organization that educates people about the environment and a place where she could combine her loves of children and nature. She became an EYNC volunteer in 1979 by participating in a beautification project. She began volunteering on weekends and during the summer as a receptionist, giving her the opportunity to educate visitors about EYNC. She informed visitors about the volunteer program and was responsible for recruiting several new volunteers.
One summer, Oprsal substituted for a sick volunteer in the Summer Fun Days program – a nature-oriented day camp for children in grades K-6. She had so much fun in the program that she has spent nearly every week of each summer since then working as a Summer Fun Days Assistant. After her retirement in 1996, Oprsal completed an intensive, 8-week training program for Docents and began to lead Nature Area Tours. She says, “If we don’t teach children to appreciate, understand, and enjoy nature, there will be no nature here for their children.”
In addition to her direct interaction with children, she has helped to develop new teaching instruments and curriculum for EYNC. She co-authored a workbook called Discovering the American River Parkway: A Handbook for Outdoor Exploration and Learning. This book includes lesson plans and activities for teachers who want to incorporate nature into their students’ lessons. Oprsal also designs a “Kid’s Page” for a bimonthly newsletter associated with EYNC.
In addition to volunteering an average of 25 hours per month for EYNC, Oprsal volunteers for other organizations, including her church, Loaves and Fishes, and she is a part of the organizing committee for a new program to help homeless persons get back on their feet. She also tutors young children in her home, at no cost to their families. Through the Coalition for Sustainability in Sacramento, Oprsal tries to improve the environment by conserving energy. She has helped many families make solar cooking ovens, and encourages everyone around her to sun-dry their washed clothes.