The Conservancy of Southwest Florida reopening renovated Nature Center

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Exhibit inside the nature center. (Credit: WINK News)

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center is days away from its grand reopening after being closed for more than a year.

The $5 million renovation focuses on areas critically important to Southwest Florida.

When you come out to the ‘newly-expanded’ Sue and William Dalton Discovery center, you will get to experience new interactive exhibits and galleries.

The expansion includes the new John & Carol Walter Discovery Wing, which focuses on invasive species like the Burmese python. There is also a new exhibit exploring climate change.

Under the lights and canopies of the Dalton Discovery Center are passionate people like the conservancy’s Director of Education Alex Levine. “It’s been such a hard time for us here at the conservancy and for people everywhere in terms of lockdowns, and not being able to interact with, you know, folks in person and as an educator, it’s been very, very difficult.”

That’s why he and his team, along with the conservancy’s supporters, are thrilled to see the nature center back open with new bells and whistles.

But, Levine said, don’t make him pick a favorite part. “I mean, is everything an answer is choice D. All of the above? Is that is that one of my options?”

Options like a lionfish, and an eastern indigo snake, and interactive areas where you can make a pledge to protect the environment.

Susan Dalton, the lead donor for Dalton Discovery Center said, “I think you will agree with me after seeing it today, it is truly top of the class for its quality exhibits, impactful messaging, and educational value.”

From the renovations to an expansion of the John and Carol Walter Discovery wing, there’s something for everyone.

“Which are chock full of super exciting and cool exhibits, to interpret the mission of the conservancy, and introduce people to topics such as climate change, everglades restoration, growth management, and invasive species,” said President and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Rob Moher.

Moher hopes the upgrades will not only educate but inspire solutions. “At the end of the day, this center is really designed to inspire and to educate and to have an impact. And so we sort of call this our ‘take action center.’ The last exhibit in the center, I don’t want to give it all away, but it allows you to make your own commitments to protect Southwest Florida’s natural environment.”

The grand reopening celebration for visitors is Saturday at 10 a.m.

Conservancy members and children two years old and younger get in free Saturday for the reopening.

Admission for non-members is $17.95 for adults and $9.95 for kids three to 12.

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