I am trying to understand why the Manitou Fund has decided to stop funding Warner Nature Center (“Warner Nature Center announces closure,” Country Messenger, Wed., 9/11/19). As a volunteer at Warner Nature Center (WNC), I have regularly seen the excitement of children as they strap on snowshoes for the first time or search for tiny aquatic insects in dip nets. It has been such a treat to see the expression of awe on the face of a child who has just held a banded bird in his or her hand and let it fly free. Thousands of school children have had the opportunity to experience nature every year for over 50 years due to the generosity of the Manitou Fund. The funding has allowed schools to bring these children to WNC at no cost. What will happen if WNC closes? With the tight budgets at many schools, chances are, thousands of children in the future will miss out on these opportunities.
The WNC property is a special place where college students do research, volunteers and staff do citizen science such as bird banding, monarch tagging, frog and toad surveys, and Blandings turtle tracking. There is a prairie that is in the process of being restored and a bog that is accessible to students and researchers by a boardwalk that was recently updated through the generosity of a late volunteer and his family. It would be a shame to see this property used in any other way.
Before retiring, I was a schoolteacher for 35 years. From my experience, I can tell you that the staff at WNC is top notch and their lessons use the best practices of environmental education.
By all accounts, the staff and volunteers are great, they are doing great work for thousands of children, and they are doing it in a unique and wonderful place. Seems to me this is worth funding and should continue for another 50 years and more.