A reception hall at Wild Basin Creative Research Center will be transformed into an interactive environmental education center thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Georgia B. Lucas Foundation Fund of the Austin Community Foundation.
Created in 1977, the Austin Community Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to giving charitable support to Central Texas organizations by connecting them with resources and community leaders.
The education center aims to expand access to hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) activities for students and the general public. Visitors will learn about the environment through exhibits.
At 227-acres, the nature preserve is home to the Golden-cheeked Warbler and a number of plant species considered “of concern.” Wild Basin is a resource for environmental and endangered species education.
Interactive exhibits include 3-D watershed and topography maps, interactive displays of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and Wild Basin, exhibits on the Golden-cheeked Warbler, learning how to recognize insects using a dichotomous key, videos and weather station data, and exploring things at a tiny scale using microscopes.
Another goal of the education center is to increase student attendance. In 2013, about 1,100 students visited Wild Basin, and staff members want to boost attendance to 5,000 annually.
Dr. John Abbott, Wild Basin director will direct project activities. Dr. Gary Morris, dean of the School of Natural Sciences, also will provide supervision.
The education center is scheduled to be complete by spring 2016.