The Fenner Conservancy breaks ground this fall on new expansion

If you're a Lansing resident, then chances are you've been to Fenner Nature Center. Whether it was to take your kids frog hunting, to look for great outdoor photo ops, or to attend the delicious Apple Butter or Maple Syrup festivals, most of us have spent time in Fenner's gorgeous green spaces. And with this latest development, there's going to be even more to love in the future.

The Fenner Conservancy (who runs Fenner Nature Center along with the City of Lansing) has been been working for the past two years on plans for some major renovations. The new building will help the center accommodate even more visitors in the future, and make their classes, programs and community outreach efforts so much easier. However, these types of expansions are very costly, and with Fenner's non-profit status, funding can be tricky to come by.

Which is what makes it such good news to hear that the Fenner Conservancy has received an amazing award in the form of $75,000 from the Community Foundation. "It's absolutely amazing!" says Alexa Seeger, Development and Events Manager at Fenner Nature Center. "It's wonderful to know that the Community Foundation is working to create a community that cares about what we do here! And with the growth and expansion that this funding will allow us, we'll be able to meet so many more of the community's needs."

So what exactly is Fenner planning to do, now that their expansion is funded? "The biggest change," Seeger explains, "is that we're building a new building, but don't worry - we'll still be using our current building. This way, we'll have more space for our classes and festivals, and we'll also be able to do larger rentals like weddings, think tank meetings, and corporate retreats. The new space will quadruple our current capacity, which is incredible, because we are functioning at maximum capacity right now."

Another great feature that Fenner is hoping to offer the community, once all the expansions are complete, is a Prairie Preschool. Based on the Reggio Emilia approach which focuses on student-centered, experiential learning in relationship-driven environments, the Prairie preschool will offer some of Lansing's youngest residents the chance to go to school outside in nature. That way, learning is place-based, and children have an opportunity to foster stewardship ethics and sense of environmental responsibility at an early age.

"We always strive to serve our community as a resource for people." Seeger says. "A place people go to engage with nature, attend landmark events, and have fun with their families We want to be a place where people come to learn and grow and live." So keep an eye out for the exciting new changes in the works. The Fenner Conservancy will break ground in the fall, and plans to have the new building ready to use sometime in the summer of 2019.

Source: Alexa Seeger, Development and Events Manager, Fenner Nature Center
Writer: Sarah Hillman, News Editor

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