Under a bright October sky, the golden sun streams through KNC’s new dome, while the frogs that moved in when we removed the old dome have moved (mostly) to boggier quarters. It’s been a rewarding project, full of cosmic photo-ops that look as if a spaceship landed at 7000 N. Westnedge Ave. Yet the real story now is what lies beneath the dome: a refurbished Visitor Center whose museum-quality exhibits reflect our renewed commitment to connect all people with nature. That, and an organization fueled by post-pandemic energy to do the same.
A case in point is our new Up in The Air: Birds in the Anthropocene exhibit. It’s a rare combination of art, science, and hands-on learning. It features the stunning illustrations of Olivia Mendoza, whose work glows with vibrant color and precise detail. The exhibit includes a replica bird-banding station; a naturalist nook for kids, complete with an LED-screen microscope; all manner of nests, eggs, feathers, and a lively story of bird migration and resilience. And, don’t miss the tiny hummingbird nest hidden in a string of Christmas lights, complete with eggs the size of Tic-Tac mints, that was rescued from a Kalamazoo apartment balcony.
After two years of work, we’re reaping the benefits of our Visitor Center renovation. But as we begin our Fall Appeal, we’re eager to build on that momentum. We have new ideas for trail improvements, wildlife habitat to restore, a summer camp to operate, solar panels to install, and – speaking of feathered marvels – new birds of prey enclosures to build. Based on the latest animal science, they will give our ever-popular raptors more space, comfort, privacy, and room to train as Animal Ambassadors. Through the generosity of our members, these plans and more will all take flight in 2022 and beyond. As always, we are grateful for your support.
Photo: Jim Triezenberg