Nicole Johnson, KNWR Environmental Education Specialist, at the official opening of the new Environmental Ed. Center.
The beautiful new Kenai National Wildlife Refuge (KNWR) Environmental Educational Center is officially open for learning and enjoying. Sunny autumn skies prevailed for the ribbon cutting and dedication picnic at the visitors center which drew many community supporters to the event. The Center will provide school groups and visitors with high quality environmental education programs on wildlife related topics, according to Nicole Johnson, KNWR Environmental Education Specialist.
The new log structure which features huge white spruce logs brought in from the Tanana Valley in interior Alaska took a couple of years to complete, “It was a dream for many years prior to construction which started in 2003. There were a lot of people involved with the actual construction and a lot of the work was done by our maintenance staff right here at the Refuge,” said Johnson. The funding for the structure was primarily federal.
National wildlife refuges across America are home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, and plants, including many endangered species. Refuges are managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The interior of the new KNWR Environmental Educational Center.
The KNWR is nearly two million acres and is often called “Alaska in Miniature.” The various habitat and eco-systems offer a wonderful opportunity for local students to explore a variety of areas in the natural world. The Center will highlight those natural opportunities. Each year some 2,500 local students from the central Kenai Peninsula participate in a variety of programs that are all free to the public, says Johnson. Advance reservations are required for field trips and participating schools or groups must be within a one hour drive of the headquarters. The new Center will be open all year round with special winter wildlife and ecology programs available. Currently the environmental education staff has developed eight curricula aligned with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District standards and is also available as a resource for students working on Caring For The Kenai projects, or will develop a program to meet your group’s interests with advance notice. Contact KNWR for further details at 262-7021.
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