HOLLAND MICHIGAN. On October 1, 2015, doors will open at the new 5,000sq ft. Visitors Center located on the 150 acre nature preserve of the Outdoor Discovery Center (ODC), 4214 56th Street in Holland. The new facility was a long-planned vision of the organization according to ODC’s executive director, Travis Williams. “The Visitors Center has been in the making for over 10 years. This new investment will enhance and further our mission to connect people, land and nature,” states Williams.
The Visitors Center is home to a world-class North American wildlife exhibit with taxidermy and live animals from throughout North America. Visitors, young and old, will experience the wonders of nature through interpretive displays. One room of the building is dedicated to habitats. It displays taxidermy in dioramas designed especially for our collection by the team from Legends Taxidermy in Scottville. Another display room has both live animals and taxidermy arranged to illustrate the five vertebrate animal groups. A large multi-purpose room has mobile display carts that can be moved to make it a large meeting or presentation space. The wildlife viewing room looks out at the DeWitt Wildlife Enclosure where our resident elk herd can be found and provides views of the bird feeding station. The room also serves as a resting space with seating and a play area for small children.
The Visitor Center will have an on-going and seasonally changed display of original images printed to canvas that were captured by three local photographers known for their nature and wildlife photography: John Dykstra, John Flemming and Ed Post.
The inside of the building has been finished with reclaimed barn wood to help bring the feel of the doors inside and is complete with reclaimed barn beams and steel roofing.
This building is the culminating project of the 10-year Building a Sustainable Future Campaign envisioned in 2005. As part of this capital campaign, more than 4.4 million dollars have been invested in the infrastructure of the ODC Nature Preserve, including the renovation of Founders Hall, Little Hawks Discovery Preschool, and the administrative offices. In addition, it funded the construction of Fillmore Discovery Park, the conservation workshop, and the Discovery Pavilion. In that time, program participation has more than tripled from 12,000 annually to over 40,000. The completion of the campaign and Visitors Center will help the Outdoor Discovery Center connect even more people with nature in the year ahead.
The entire month of October will be dedicated to a Public Grand Opening of the Visitors Center, presented by our good friends at CHS. The new building will be highlighted as well as several other recent additions to the Nature Preserve including new landscaping and water feature in front of the new building, a pond-fed play stream at Little Hawks Discovery Preschool, and renovations to the “Imagination Forest.” We will offer many fun and creative activities for the whole family and while visiting the center guests can enter for a weekly drawing. Personal group tours can be scheduled by calling 616-393-9453. On Tuesday, October 20, 6 to 7:30PM, the public will be able to join us for an informative talk with the photographers of the center’s nature photos and the Visitors Center exhibits will certainly be a special “treat” to guests attending ODC’s annual Treats and Trails held on Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24 from 5-8PM.
Watch our website www.outdoordiscovery.org and social media pages to learn more about giveaways, contests and special events for the Grand Opening month of October. The visitor center will be open to the public 9 am to 5 pm weekdays, 10 am to 4 pm Saturdays and 12 to 4 pm Sundays.