The nature center building was built in 1998 with seed funds given to Kenosha County by Robert Pringle, Sr.'s sister, Fanny Pringle. The Pringle Family has long been a part of the Kenosha County community. Their ties run back for over a century. They have been actively involved in shaping the county's growth and care of the environment. It is this reason that the opening of the Robert D. Pringle Nature Center was such a proud moment for the county of Kenosha.
Robert D. Pringle, Sr. was born in 1887 in a frame cabin on his parents' homestead in the Dakota Territory. When he was a year and half old, his mother, Cynthia, his sister, Fanny, and he moved to his grandparents' home in Bristol, Wisconsin.
In 1919, Robert married his girlfriend, Florence Jensen. They bought and moved to the 160 acre farm which is still owned by the family today. In 1920, they began to raise their family and take an interest in civic affairs.
In 1957, Robert retired from farming and became the Vice Chairman of the Kenosha County Parks commission from 1958 to 1971. It was during this time that his friend, Park Commissioner William Thompson, planted the seed that some of Robert's land would make wonderful park. Another friend, Park Superintendent Dick Lindl, worked to see his dream bear fruit. That land is now known as Bristol Woods County Park. Robert's sister, Fanny, shared Robert's love for nature. She donated money to the County of Kenosha to hold until there would be enough to build a nature center in the park.
When PNC opened in 1998, it was run by the Kenosha Youth Foundation (KYF) as a true nature center with Dan Werner as the director. "Dan the Nature Man" and volunteer Jim Major conducted environmental education programs for thousands of excited school-aged children and kept the center open to the public 7 days a week. However, in January 2003, the KYF eliminated Werner's position and the center was only used as a KYF childcare facility during the summer. On December 31st, 2003, the KYF, now the YMCA of Kenosha, decided to no longer facilitate nature programming at the facility and the doors were locked. Largely due to the efforts of Dan Werner and Jim Major, in cooperation with the Hoy Audubon Society, the center re-opened on an all volunteer basis in May of 2004.
Because of the contributions of these individuals and funding from Kenosha County and the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board, PNC was again able to provide environmental education to school groups, youth organizations, families, and adults.
In 2006, a grant from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board allowed for the hiring of a part-time naturalist. Through the efforts of Kenosha County, funding was provided by Waste Management, Inc. in 2007 to make the Naturalist position full-time. The funding was assumed by Kenosha County in its 2009 budget and has continued since. A part-time Environmental Educator was also added in 2017 with support from Kenosha County.