Armand Bayou Nature Center’s education facilities were built more than 30 years ago, when environmental education was much less high-tech and without the advantages of today’s green building techniques.
Because of limited classroom and exhibit space, ABNC now struggles to meet the current demand for school field trips. Our existing facilities have some room for small live animal displays, but not enough space for the larger-scale and technically advanced exhibits necessary to properly explain the history and unique ecosystems of ABNC. The aging restroom facilities are undersized for current visitation levels and are located much too far from the entrance. Existing classrooms were not designed to support modern teaching techniques and lack the laboratory facilities needed to provide wetland, watershed and restoration ecology related curriculum. In brief, new facilities will be critical if we are to continue our mission of reconnecting people to nature.
For over seven years, the ABNC Board of Trustees has been planning for the new Environmental Education Center, developing a concept for a new visitor center, restrooms, classroom and library complex. The overall project cost estimate is $2,000,000. Phase I Visitor Center funding has been secured with a $300,000 Texas Parks & Wildlife grant through Harris County, a $200,000 grant from Houston Endowment, and $100,000 of ABNC capital reserves. Significant project costs have been avoided through funded partnerships that will add Watersmart landscaping to the site. To date, $175,000 has donated or pledged towards the Phase III Classroom/Lab and Library Complex. Phase II will redevelop the Entry and Admissions area to assure accessibility and introduce public art to the outdoor experience.
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