Archbold unveils new exhibits
ALETA KAYLAKE PLACID - After two years of preparation, more than 100 educators, elected officials, funding partners and friends of Archbold Biological Station attended the opening ceremony for the Frances Archbold Hufty Learning Center's new education exhibits Friday.
Published: November 4, 2012
Published: November 4, 2012
Exhibits include a taxidermied radio-collared black bear, a life-like scrub habitat diorama, nature and history trails and much more.
There are five trails and a K-12 educational building.
The site also includes a lodge, picnic area, an auditorium, and conference rooms. The educational building is a hands-on learning environment with interactive tools to grab students' attention.
Director of Development and Communications Melissa Mabe pointed out the scenic coverings on the tables and explained, "They have hidden animals in them. The students try to find the hidden animal, which is highlighted in a circle."
Archbold, which was established in 1941, is a nonprofit research institution that conducts ecological research, primarily on the Lake Wales Ridge and adjacent central Florida.
"Our work addresses the needs of the Northern Everglades, one of the world's most important regions for water, wildlife and rare plants and animals, serving as a model program for other regions around the globe," said Executive Director Hilary Swain.
"People from around the world come here to see what we are doing," she added. "And they are amazed."
The new buildings, exhibits, and trails were built to expand Archbold's education and outreach efforts.
The station currently hosts every fourth-grade class in Highlands County and hopes to also foster a relationship with Glades County schools.
"We hope to encourage more people to come to Archbold to discover the wonders of this unique ecosystem that exists right in their backyards," said Mary Hufty, chairwoman of Archbold's board of trustees.
The new trails are the Nature Trail and the Ridgescaping Trail. Trails can be toured by visitors on their own or with a guide.
Small signs are posted to show the names of plant life.
The exhibits are hands-on learning experiences.
Visitors can touch the displays and play a game that helps them identify the wildlife and plant life at the facility. They are encouraged to write a note describing how they will put to use what they have learned in order to make a difference in the environment. Once a year, middle-school children act as guides for the fourth-graders and write a newsletter for them.
The Nature Trail begins with the exhibits in the Learning Center, then leads through the intriguing scrub landscape on the Discovery Loop, Explorer's Loop, and Scrub Lookout Loop. The guide for this trail is Mark Deyrup.
The Ridgescaping Trail shows how the native plants around the Learning Center grow in harmony with the seasons. The trails are lined with red flags and signs with arrows pointing the way. This trail is guided by Stacy Smith.
The buildings were constructed primarily by private funds and have been built with ecological and environmental conservation in mind.
Swain explained that many materials used were from plankton-cooled recycled materials. The cement used was mixed with fly ash, which helps keep down the carbon released back into the environment.
There is no admission fee, but donations are suggested as follows: $5 for individuals or $10 per family.
There is a station use fee of $8 per day per person for visitors, researchers, and scientists using lab facilities and/or overnight accommodation.
For more information, go to www.archbold-station.org or contact Melissa Mabe at 863-465-2571, ext. 277.
The facility will be open to the public beginning Monday.