Visitor Center James Pate Philip
The visitor center highlights the reasons and needs for restoration to occur in natural areas, where ever they may be located. Exhibits details the impacts of human intervention over the years, such as fragmenting the landscape through plowing and building, clogging the natural waterways with chemical and sediment loading, and draining the land of water to enable farming and development to occur. Through visually stunning photomurals, interactive displays and activities, visitors discover the need to protect and restore the broken natural processes. A small theater features videos that tell the story of this land -- from the glaciers that sculpted the land to the explorers who discovered the land, the settlers, farmers and developers who tamed the land, and the individuals who now are restoring the land.
Along with these fixed elements, there is a wide range of programming. Younger visitors are able to participate in hands-on activities designed to introduce the prairie and its animals through sensory-based programs. Older elementary school groups will begin to explore ecosystem concepts such as the water and food cycles. At this level, active restoration projects will be undertaken to model how individuals can help restore native lands. Older groups also will participate in active restoration work by monitoring natural areas for plant and animal life, assisting in the development of resource management plans for specific areas, and then actively working to increase the local biodiversity. From kindergartner to adult, there is a program for everyone.