Lois Hart, experienced gardener, leadership consultant, author and resident ambassador for The Lakes at Centerra truly puts her heart into our Sweetheart City.

For as long as Lois can remember she’s always been an outdoor enthusiast. Her childhood was filled with the likes of Girl Scouts excursions, skiing, canoeing, but most importantly, gardening. At just six years old, Lois spent most of her time helping out in her parents’ World War II victory garden. In the years since Lois has honed her skills in flower arrangements, pressing and photographing flowers, irrigation and drip systems. For her, working and spending time in her gardens is a calming, meditative experience. Moving to The Lakes offered the perfect backdrop for creating another one of her masterpieces.

After spending nearly, a decade in Montana, Lois and her husband Arn moved back to Colorado in search of a beautiful place to call home; one that allowed the opportunity to explore and enjoy the outdoors, plus the space to develop several new gardens. Lois found more than she was looking for when she and Arn chose to make Loveland, Colorado their longtime home.

The Harts settled into The Lakes at Centerra seamlessly. Beyond the solid craftsmanship of the homes, they fell in love with everything the neighborhood had to offer. After living in over 18 homes, the community feeling of The Lakes is what initially drew Lois to living here. Despite having many new neighbors who relocated to Loveland from out of state, Lois describes the neighborhood as open and friendly. The community’s environmentally conscious developer, McWHINNEY, was just an added bonus. “As we got to discovering what McWHINNEY was all about, we were absolutely impressed,” Lois said. “Their commitment to maintaining open spaces throughout our neighborhood makes our backyard feel like an outdoor oasis.” Centerra’s 275 acres of preserved lakes, wetlands and trails connects residents to their natural habitat and provide environmental education and activities perfectly show how McWHINNEY is working to create environmentally sustainable communities.

The Harts were amazed to see all of the amenities that The Lakes has to offer. Whether it’s the picturesque views of Equalizer Lake, or the ability to enjoy events at The Lake Club, it’s been a great fit for their family. The couple cherishes their time spent enjoying the walking and biking trails, observing local wildlife through birdwatching and fishing, and volunteering at HPEC. One of Lois’ favorite memories of her partnership with HPEC was seeing the joy on the faces of the children from High Plains School when they crafted Halloween pumpkins together. Lois also enjoys time in The Lakes’ Community Garden, and the fact that half of its space is dedicated to raising food which is later donated to local food banks. The other half of the garden is available for resident use, something that Lois greatly appreciated using during the construction of her home at The Lakes.

Lois has become increasingly interested in environmental stewardship which aligns nicely with Centerra’s focus on being an environmentally sustainable community. She especially enjoys the positive collaboration seen between McWHINNEY, The Lakes, and High Plains Environmental Center (HPEC) throughout The Lakes’ grounds, gardens, and trail systems. And she isn’t the only one who enjoys the positive partnership! In fact, HPEC’s Executive Director, Jim Tolstrup, explains that this type of collaboration between a non-profit environmental center, a developer, and a neighborhood is a one-of-a-kind model. “When the plans for Centerra were brought to the Loveland planning department, the McWhinneys’ were adamant about having 20% open space at build-out,” Jim said, “Tom Hoyt, lifelong developer and conservationist always said, ‘you can’t have developments without talking about conservation at the same time.’ Which is exactly what McWHINNEY and Loveland did.”

Lois’ longtime passion for environment and conservation is what lead her to be one of the founding members of Centerra’s residential Certified Wildlife Habitats. In fact, since becoming certified in 2018 she has helped select native plants for several neighbor’s gardens that encourages habitats for wildlife throughout Centerra’s community. “HPEC set the stage to educate us about how to attract and create habitats for wildlife,” Lois says. “I attended the workshop on pollinators to attract bees and butterflies. We learned what we can do to increase the wildlife around our homes the open spaces. When they let us know we could sign up to help get certification from the National Wildlife Federation, I jumped on this opportunity to be part of this showcase. We are so proud that we not only got the certificate but that we are the first in the state of Colorado.”

To learn more about getting your yard certified, or volunteering with HPEC, visit their website.