Westport Schoolhouse and Pollinator Paradise open June 13

Beautiful script shows the names of students enrolled at Westport No. 5, and rows of Xs represent when they attended class.

One’s mind wanders at the dates that don’t have an X. What were the kids doing that day? Were they sick? Did they have to stay home and help with harvest? Was Mom ill and so daughter had to stay at home to care for her little brothers and sisters?

Stepping into the Westport Schoolhouse in Kenue Park makes people think about times gone by and all that historic building saw at its original location in Westport Township. Come see where your imagination might take you when Westport Schoolhouse opens for the season Tuesday, June 13, in Okoboji.

Photo of interior of country school

“We spent part of the winter and fall going through old papers and record books, pulling out teacher’s paycheck stubs and attendance records,” said Kiley Roth, community relations coordinator for the Dickinson County Conservation Board. “Many of those items from Westport No. 5 are now on display inside the building, offering a fun look back into the history of the schoolhouse.”

Opening the same day in Kenue Park is Pollinator Paradise, located just south of the Dickinson County Nature Center.

Photo of a monarch butterfly

The building houses exhibits on butterflies, native bees and pollinator plantings as well as a kids area and monarch butterfly enclosure where monarch caterpillars are raised throughout the summer. Dickinson County Conservation staff and visitors will bring in monarch eggs and caterpillars to safely raise until they hatch into butterflies, and then those butterflies are released into the wild.

“Seeing the monarch life cycle up close, from tiny caterpillars growing 2,700 times larger before they go into chrysalis to hatching out into an adult is just incredible,” Roth said. “Having that experience truly helps foster an appreciation for nature into people of all ages.”

Both the Westport Schoolhouse and Pollinator Paradise are open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, June 13-Sept. 1.

Photo of back of nature center addition

The Dickinson County Conservation Board and Conservation Foundation of Dickinson County are also fundraising to create a new $1.7 million Pollinator Paradise addition to the north side of the Dickinson County Nature Center. The project is expected to break ground this July, and then Phase 2 will be the addition of children’s museum-quality exhibits including a walk-through caterpillar tunnel, life-size honeycomb, indoor pollinator plant greenhouse and more.

For more information on Kenue Park’s offerings or on the new Pollinator Paradise addition to the nature center, visit www.dickinsoncountyconservationboard.com or call 712-336-6352. You can also keep up with the latest news on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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