Crafting a Win-Win Relationship

James Klein drilling to tap a maple tree in February 2023
James Klein, President of Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust, had the honor of the first maple tree tapping of the 2023 syruping season.

“I got to tap the first tree last year. That was fun.” James Klein, President of Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust (CRBT), says of the ceremonial honor of the first maple tree tap of the 2023 season. The honor, which he shared with colleague Jen Welton, was well-earned by the leaders of an organization that has consistently invested in Indian Creek Nature Center since 1996 and will be the lead sponsor of the Maple Syrup Festival for the third time this year. This investment includes supporting the month-long STEM education in March for maple syruping.  

Klein summarizes CRBT’s support saying “when we give to Indian Creek Nature Center I feel very good that it’s going to be a good steward of that money, and do things that help all income levels, all population types in our community. It’s very inclusive and open to all, which is important to CRBT.”

Giving back to the community “has been part of who we are from the start” and is “the right thing to do for our community”. Klein describes CRBT’s business approach as “a four-legged stool”.

“Our employees. Our clients. Our community. Our shareholders. [Giving] is one of our main tenets, and most of us are here because we love the community aspect of CRBT. Whether it’s financial giving, volunteering within the community, learning about the community or enjoying the community, [this] makes it unique. The better our community does, the better we do. It just has always felt like a win-win.”

While giving is integral to CRBT’s impact on the community, Klein may be proudest of the sense of volunteerism that runs through the company. “We have more than 6,000 volunteer hours a year and the neat thing is we put out a volunteer opportunity in our community and it gets filled up by our employees internally right away. What I’ve heard from my employees is when they get involved in the community, and they can see their work and their efforts help a place like Indian Creek Nature Center, they get a tremendous sense of pride.”

CRBT staff at ICNC's 50th Celebration Event
Jen Welton (center), pictured with other CRBT staff at ICNC’s 50th Celebration Event, has served as President of the ICNC Board of Directors.

More than a few of these hours come during the two-day Maple Syrup Festival, where year after year CRBT employees volunteer to spend their weekend serving pancakes, washing dishes, and completing many other tasks because they enjoy being part of the learning, camaraderie, and delicious breakfast with real maple syrup at Indian Creek Nature Center’s signature event. Klein appreciates that “the Maple Syrup Festival is so unique to our community. I love how it brings people together. It’s always a great thing to see people eating, socializing, and then enjoying nature — kind of a trifecta.”

Recognizing that much of what makes the Nature Center great is the volunteers, Klein says, “Thank you to all our CRBT staff and also all the community volunteers that help out at Indian Creek Nature Center. It’s truly a unique [place] for our community and it brings nature and people together.”

Similar to how Klein sees how a unique festival can bring people together in nature, he sees how having a unique destination in our community benefits everyone. 

“Indian Creek Nature Center — there’s no other place like it in the country, or the world, probably. So, we support organizations like Indian Creek that make our place a better place to live, work and play, retain people, attract people with different things that make their life better. Indian Creek is something that makes our community better and it can also help people be better, as well. There’s not a lot of places in an urban area like Cedar Rapids where you can drive 10 minutes and be out in the middle of nature for a nice break. We’re glad to be part of that.”

In addition to their shared investment in our community, CRBT is also committed to the environmental work at the heart of Indian Creek Nature Center’s mission. “The environment — it’s a major talking point here at CRBT, and we try to back it up with action,” says Klein. “When we build new locations, we spend a lot of time talking about the environment. In the last several years, we’ve gone solar for all our buildings. We put in a lot of trees. That’s an important part of our building in Cedar Rapids.”

With overlapping priorities in their missions, a family-friendly festival to bring them together, and a long history of working to make Cedar Rapids a wonderful community, there’s no end in sight for the win-win partnership between Indian Creek Nature Center and Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust. 

“In the future, I see the Indian Creek Nature Center and CRBT deepening our partnership even more, financially, with volunteer hours, and the new ways of looking at education that the Nature Center does — I think it’s so neat. I think we’re just getting started. There’s so many things we can do together in the future, and I look forward to it.”

Previous Post
Who Loves a Warmer Winter?
Next Post
Bluebird Monitoring

Related Posts

No results found.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.