Dickinson County Endowment Fund grants help fund exhibit fabrication

The Pollinator Paradise addition at the Dickinson County Nature Center is continuing to move forward thanks to a grant from the Dickinson County Endowment Fund.

The Conservation Foundation of Dickinson County received a $10,000 grant from the Dickinson County Endowment Fund in September 2018 to help create exhibits inside the new Pollinator Paradise addition to the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji.

This grant is being partnered with other donations and grants to create children’s museum-quality exhibits about butterflies, bees and other pollinators that will be installed in November 2019.

“Pollinators are responsible for one-in-three bites of food that we take,” said Kiley Roth, community relations coordinator for the Dickinson County Conservation Board. “The populations of monarch butterflies, honeybees and native bees are dwindling drastically, and we need to bring this issue to the forefront so that we can start making a difference and bring back these important creatures.”

The $1.7 million project will feature several interactive and educational exhibits. Visitors will enter Pollinator Paradise to see a life-size apple orchard where they can dress up as a blue orchard mason bee and collect faux pollen to launch into the stigma of a flower and watch as it moves from tree to tree with the help of bees.

Then they will be able to play the role of cook inside a food truck to create faux meals using pollinated ingredients. Kids will serve their guests cereal with blueberries and coffee or will be able to make a beef fajita with guacamole, salsa and green peppers — all of which need pollinators to exist.

In the Magic Monarchs exhibit, guests will be able to see the live monarch life cycle in the summer and also create symmetrical butterfly wing designs using colorful tiles and mirror.

“The Build a Pollinator exhibit will be like Mr. Potatohead for pollinators,” Roth said. “Pick a butterfly, moth, beetle or bumblebee body and then finish your pollinator by selecting from different antennae, wings, legs and even a proboscis — which is what many pollinators use to get nectar from a flower.”

Save the Pollinators will be a digital game where people of all ages can create a pollinator garden. They will select the type and amount of flowers and grasses for a garden plot and watch how those choices impact the population of pollinators throughout the seasons.

“Our goal at the Dickinson County Nature Center is to foster an appreciation of the natural world, and that often starts with fun,” Roth said. “We want people of all ages to learn, play and appreciate at the nature center.”

Exhibit designs are now with the fabricators — Heartland Scenic Studio of Omaha, NE — and should be installed by November 2019.

Donations are still being taken to complete the Pollinator Paradise project, and you can make a tax-deductible gift to the Conservation Foundation of Dickinson County by clicking here and writing “Pollinator Paradise” in the notes to seller section.

For more information on Pollinator Paradise and for blogs, quizzes and craft about pollinators here or keep up on the latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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