Sunday Science: Big changes for North Branch Nature Center - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Sunday Science: Big changes for North Branch Nature Center

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MONTPELIER, Vt. - North Branch Nature Center is nestled right in Montpelier. It's on 28 acres of land that are full of hiking, biking, gardening and opportunities to learn about nature -- out in nature.

"We have people from three different counties coming to take part in our after school program," says Executive Director Chip Darmstadt.

He says an estimated 150,000 visitors have come to the center since it opened in 1996. And thousands of children have come through in school programs or summer camps. He says that number is only growing.

"People -- parents in this case -- want their kids outside. They want them to connect to the natural world," he says.

And he says they've outgrown the only space they have for teaching right now, a small barn.

"It's an old sheep barn. Still smells like an old sheep barn," Darmstadt says.

The biggest change in this campaign will be the addition of a new $675,000 Community Nature Center. North Branch Nature Center says it will bring some much-needed workspace.

"With only one teaching space, we're often trying to find out ways to have more than one thing going on at a time," Darmstadt says. "So we're creating a space that will have three new teaching spaces, including a big, open public space for events."

There will also be upgrades to the old farmhouse with their offices and animal care room, along with other projects to spruce up the grounds. The price tag is $1.5 million. Darmstadt says already in the last year, they've raised $600,000 of that through private donations.

"Most of it will come from our donors, our members, people out in the community who want to see North Branch take it to the next level because our programs have grown, and the demand has grown too," he says.

If they can drum up enough support, North Branch hopes to break ground in 2016. If you'd like information on how you can contribute, you can call the Nature Center or visit: http://www.northbranchnaturecenter.org/

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