Privately funded state-of-the-art exhibitory will enhance hands-on learning experience
The campaign for the Letchworth Nature Center committee has solidified plans for 15 interactive learning exhibits inside and out of the Letchworth Nature Center facility, and is offering a unique opportunity for donors to name the exhibits prior to the opening of the center next spring.
The Letchworth Nature Center has been in the planning phase for more than two years, and will fulfill a long-held need at Letchworth State Park for a year-round environmental education center. Construction for the Letchworth Nature Center officially began in May.
In addition to welcoming the 650,000 guests who make their way through the park each year, the center will be a learning facility, with two classrooms and exhibitory that teaches visitors about the geographical history of the park, as well as the flora and fauna that resides in Letchworth State Park today.
To date, major gifts for the new Letchworth Nature Center that have been secured and memorialized include the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation Display Hall; the Lucy R. Waletsky Outdoor Classroom; the William Chalk & Margaret Strachan Gouinlock Classroom; and the Friends of Letchworth Butterfly Garden. Additionally, M&T Band is supporting the Erosionary Forces Exhibit while the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo is underwriting the Water Pressure Exhibit. All totaled, the campaign has raised $1.75 million toward a goal of $2.1 million.
One of the largest planned exhibits in the center's Wendt Display Hall will be a gorge and geology interpretation wall. It will physically replicate the gorge wall, giving guests a perspective never before seen in Letchworth by putting them at the bottom of the gorge. The interactive structure will allow visitors to touch and feel the surface of the wall and experience the gorge virtually in an exhilarating fly-through video tour.
While adults marvel at the history of the park, little ones can do their own exploring at the Children's Activi-Tree play area. Another large-scale exhibit in the center, the Activi-Tree is a forest-themed play area with a custom log climber, murals and an animal den for kids. Flip-up graphics reveal hidden animals peeking out through the trees, as kids learn about the species that call Letchworth State Park home.
A host of other interactive exhibits will include:
•Glacial Erosion Exhibit - A freestanding glacier wall with information about how New York was carved by glaciers.
•The Genesee River - Winding down the length of the display hall floor, just as it winds through the heart of Letchworth State Park.
•Bird Display Hall Trees - A key feature of the display hall, these 20-foot abstract trees are home to a flock of birds displaying the many species in the park.
•Erosionary Forces Exhibit - A grand scale mural featuring digital interactive elements that make the river come alive, with information on how it helped carve the deepest gorge east of the Mississippi.
•Four Seasons Exhibit - From the fall leaves to the winter snow, this exhibit focuses on the four changing seasons in Letchworth State Park.
•Water Pressure Exhibit - An interactive display allowing guests to test their strength and find out how much force it takes for the river to move a boulder.
•Riparian Exhibit/Talus Slopes - A grand-scale mural and interactive display featuring the Talus Slopes and the Riparian Wetlands - two of the most important environments found in the park.
•Tree Species Exhibit - What's the difference between a maple and an oak? See the leaves and feel the textured bark of trees around the park.
•Birds, Insects & Mammals Exhibit - Focusing on the park's animal inhabitants, this exhibit teaches about the birds, insects and mammals found in park.
•Invasive Species Exhibit - A photo and artifact exhibit showing the animals and plants and how they are constantly changing. This exhibit also shows visitors the role humans play in shaping Letchworth State Park.
•Rock Strata Exhibit - The story of the park, geologically, over time. This interactive exhibit features a flipbook, teaching guests about the various rock formations found in the park throughout many eons.
•Climate Change - An exhibit studying the most recent environment present in the gorge, both man-made and natural, and how it has changed over the years.
Outside of the center, the Friends of Letchworth Butterfly Garden will grace the lawn in front of the building. The garden is planned to bring in four species of butterfly, including the well-known monarch butterfly, the painted lady, the red-spotted purple butterfly and the hackberry emperor. The garden will be planted with a variety of nectar plants that are known to attract and feed butterflies, mixed in with caterpillar plants suitable for the insects during their early stages of life and during transformation.
The campaign committee is offering each of the interior exhibits as naming opportunities for donors who wish to contribute to the facility and leave a lasting impression on the many guests who will travel through the Letchworth Nature Center. Exhibit sponsorship ranges from $10,000 to $150,000. General information about underwriting exhibit naming rights is available by contacting Allen Payne at [email protected] or by calling 518-474-2997.
To learn more about the Nature Center, or to support the campaign for the Letchworth Nature Center by donating, visit www.letchworthnaturecenter.org.
The campaign for the Letchworth State Park Nature Center is a public/private partnership with plans to erect a $6.1 million Nature Center on Letchworth State Park grounds. The result of nearly five years of planning, the Letchworth Nature Center will be a 5,000-square-foot, year-round, sustainable facility that will offer educational and interpretive programming to the 750,000 visitors Letchworth welcomes through its gates each year.
The fundraising efforts are being spearheaded by the Letchworth Nature Center campaign committee, and include representatives of the Genesee Regional Parks Commission, the Open Space Institute's Alliance for New York State Parks and the Natural Heritage Trust. Private donations are being matched 2 to 1 by public funds. The campaign has raised $1.7 million in private funds toward a $2 million goal, and will be matched by $4 million in state funds.