Small Business Profile: PEEC Gift Shop At Nature Center Has Hidden Benefits

PEEC Gift Shop Manager Kate Barrere in front of the gift shop at the Los Alamos Nature Center. Photo by Sandra West

Staff Report

A major, undeniable benefit to life in Los Alamos is the outstanding scenery and unspoiled flora and fauna surrounding the community. For more than 10 years, the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) has strived to educate, celebrate, preserve and explore these natural wonders.

PEEC Marketing Manager Sandra West explained that the organization was founded in 2000 “by a group of dedicated citizens who had a vision of bringing a nature center to Los Alamos.” She added, “The founders of PEEC wanted to help Los Alamos become a place where nature is a part of people’s lives, and where people enjoy, value, and care for it on a regular basis. Los Alamos is lucky to have so many opportunities to get outside—we want to help people make the most of those opportunities.”

Since PEEC is a non-profit organization, every dollar spent at the Los Alamos Nature Center gift shop or Planetarium or donation to PEEC helps provide opportunities for all ages to learn about the nature world and enjoy the outdoors, West said. 

PEEC’s mission is enriching people’s lives by strengthening their connections to our canyons, mesas, mountains and skies. They serve more than 30,000 people each year with school field trips, public talks and outings, classes and workshops, and the nature center’s exhibits, gardens, and play spaces.

PEEC consists of seven employees and hundreds of volunteers. Many of the original founders are still actively involved in PEEC, including Chick and Yvonne Keller, Becky Shankland, Michele Altherr and Sarah Gustafson.

The Nature Center is at 2600 Canyon Road, and open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, closed Thursday and open 1-4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit or call 505.662.0460.

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