Building Up (and For) Our Communities
This article was featured in the Winter 2021 issue of Explore, our quarterly magazine for members.
Long before the pandemic, our wildlife sanctuaries across the state were looking for new and innovative ways to meet the needs of their local communities. These needs only amplified as we welcomed an influx of new and returning visitors seeking refuge outdoors.
As the world—and our community outreach—begins to adapt to a new normal, we're hard at work ensuring that our indoor and outdoor spaces offer opportunities for increased engagement with the natural world for people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities.
These three wildlife sanctuaries are prime examples of new spaces that align with Mass Audubon's commitment to broaden the experiences of visitors.
Teaching Pavilion at Arcadia
Opened in late 2020
At a time when inside gatherings remain a challenge, nature can serve as a safe and nurturing classroom. But sometimes the weather can dampen the learning, literally and figuratively. Enter the new Teaching Pavilion at Arcadia in Northampton and Easthampton.
This striking, 50-by-30-foot structure was built using 19th-century timber framing construction methods. No nails and minimal steel were used, and all of the wood was sourced from within 100 miles.
The pavilion will improve Arcadia's educational capacity and outreach, including climate change programming for middle and high schoolers, summer camps, and school field trips.
Discovery Center at Long Pasture
Expected to open spring 2021
For more than two decades, staff at Long Pasture in Barnstable has welcomed visitors, led nature programs, and managed the sanctuary in the tight quarters of a former private home overlooking Barnstable Harbor.
As the Long Pasture community grew—and with it the demand for more educational programming—staff began formulating a plan. Five years and $1.7 million in donations later, the dream of a 21st-century facility with campus-wide improvements has become a reality.
The new 1,700-square-foot, ADA-accessible Discovery Center will feature flexible classroom and laboratory space to enable hands-on learning opportunities for all ages; a reception area highlighting interpretive materials and living exhibits; and floor-to-ceiling windows that offer inspiring views of Barnstable Harbor, Sandy Neck, and Cape Cod Bay.
Historic Program Barn Addition at Pleasant Valley
Expected to open spring 2021
Pleasant Valley in Lenox has welcomed visitors and served the community as a vibrant hub of conservation, environmental education, and outdoor recreation in the Berkshires for the last 90 years.
As local residents and tourists increasingly spend time in nature, it is essential that Pleasant Valley welcomes and accommodates the diverse needs of modern visitors. Thanks to an outpouring of support for the Opening Doors to Nature campaign, including a $200,000 grant from the Mass Cultural Council, we are able to accomplish this by building an addition to the 18th-century program barn.
When it opens, this new space will maintain the character of the Berkshires but with all the necessary modern features. In the new lobby area, visitors will be able to view interpretive maps of Pleasant Valley, gather for group programs, and view educational displays. Outdoors, the extensive decking creates a space for accessible, outdoor programming; birdwatching and wildlife viewing; and of course, just sitting and relaxing in nature.