About Nature Friend
We are a children’s magazine the whole family, including the grandparents, can enjoy. We publish twelve issues per year, six of which are gently nudged towards an older age. They are the January, March, May, July, September, and November issues. This is easiest to observe by the two-page art lesson that goes a bit more in-depth than the one-page lesson. While 8-16 may be a nucleus, we publish drawings by 3-4 year olds and quotes/writings from parents and grandparents.
Its Beginning and Purpose
Nature Friend magazine, begun in 1983, was produced mainly by the Stanley and Janice Brubaker family of Goshen, Indiana, owners of Pilgrim Publishers. It was born out of Stanley’s desire to encourage children to believe in God as their Creator and to seek out, recognize, and appreciate His handiwork.
Since the doctrine of Divine Creation is the first and foundational one of Scripture, our children must be able to stand on it securely to withstand the undermining influences from our culture. Nature Friend has never chosen to be controversial or militantly confrontational about creation vs. evolution. Its policy has been to simply stand on the truth of God’s Word and to present it as enjoyable fact while learning about the creatures God has created. Nature Friend recognizes that God has planned for man to be wise stewards over His creation, and that He alone is to be worshipped, not His creation.
Printing and Production
The first issue of Nature Friend, in January 1983, was only 6 ½ by 9 inches in size and 12 pages in length. It was produced and mailed out by the Brubaker family themselves.
Through the years Nature Friend has grown in size and circulation. Today it has twenty-eight 8 ½-by-11-inch pages and is mailed each month to thousands of subscribers from more than seventy-five countries. Since April 2009, a Study Guide edition is also published. Study Guides contain eight to twelve pages additional pages. These have excerises to reinforce learning from the given issue of Nature Friend, and bonus features that teach creative writing and nature photography.
At first, articles were written mostly by the Brubaker family and friends, but now they come from a wide variety of writers. We also encourage readers to submit their stories, photographs and art.
Stanley had a boyhood interest in bird and nature photography which developed into an intense longing to glorify God with photographs of His handiwork. His photos as well as pictures from many other photographers and artists have been used to help keep the magazine interesting, informative, and fun.
Each month since the first issue in January 1983, Nature Friend has a “You Can Draw” lesson. Children enjoy doing these art lessons, and sending us their work to consider for publication.
Stanley and Janice had ten children. All of them put many hours into Nature Friend. The many years of editing, promoting, and publishing the magazine, along with the financial strain that often attended it, eventually brought the family to the place where they thought it should go to another publisher. Marvin and Miriam Wengerd, owners of Carlisle Press, purchased Nature Friend in July of 1998. For the next eight years their family and staff published it. In May 2006 Nature Friend was sold to Kevin and Bethany Shank, owners of Dogwood Ridge Outdoors, in Dayton, Virginia.
Kevin’s first exposure to Nature Friend magazine was in 1985 when he began taking wildlife and nature photographs as a freelance photographer. Nature Friend was among the first magazines to receive his photographic submissions.
While Kevin’s background has been almost entirely working at Christian Light Publications (founded by his father), it never occurred to him until two years ago that some day he might be the publisher of Nature Friend. But a seed was planted. Kevin and Bethany began writing a monthly feature for Nature Friend titled, “In the Beginning God Created. . . .” Today, not only has the seed sprouted, it is beginning to grow.
Kevin and Bethany have six children; Marlin, Shaphan, Darren, Allen, Cheryl, and Adrian. The children are homeschooled, and also help with various aspects of publishing Nature Friend.
About our “Cheer the Children” program
In 1990, Kevin’s father Sanford, his brother Sterling, as well as a close friend and the friend’s mother, found out within two weeks of each other that they were terminally ill. All four were from the same little country church where the Shanks still attend. Kevin’s father, at that time, was one of the pastors. Kevin realizes these were not children, but his close association with their experiences helps him to understand what many boys and girls are also experiencing.
For nearly twenty years, Kevin has been an emergency medical technician. Many of those years he was active either as a volunteer in the community or as a part-time employee with an ambulance company. Throughout this time Kevin has been involved with many hurting children and their parents.
Early in 2006, Kevin shared with Marvin a vision for getting Nature Friend into hospitals encourage the children. At the time of ownership transfer, the “Cheer the Children” program was established. Today we have expanded this to include doctor’s offices, local, church, and school libraries, as well as prisons.