Pollinator Paradise Addition | Dickinson County Conservation Board
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Pollinator Paradise Addition

History

In 2006, conservationist Delores Maser graciously donated funds to build a small butterfly house in Kenue Park, what would be the future home of the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji.

Photo of a monarch butterfly hatching from a chrysalis

In the past 11 years, it has been used to rear monarch caterpillars each summer, from eggs to caterpillars to chrysalis to adult butterfly. Then each butterfly is tagged and released into the wild. Youth and adults are able to see the monarch life cycle up close, aiding in fostering an appreciation for these precious creatures.

In 2015, the butterfly house was renovated and exhibits were added on butterflies, native bees and planting natives for pollinators. With the addition of pollinator gardens as well, the entire area was renamed Pollinator Paradise and has spurred the desire for the Pollinator Paradise addition to the nature center.

(Learn more about the Bee & Butterfly Festival.)

Project specifications

The Pollinator Paradise addition is currently in the fundraising phase of the $1.7 million project. The project is expected to break ground in the summer of 2017, and then Phase 2 will be the addition of children’s museum-quality exhibits. Phase 3 of the project is to create a $500,000 endowment, included in the $1.7 million total figure, that will help the conservation board update and maintain the building and exhibits in years to come.

(Click here to see the budget breakdown.)

Photo of nature center addition

The Pollinator Paradise addition will be on the north side of the current Dickinson County Nature Center, with access from the main building.

Photo of back of nature center addition

Exhibits in the new addition are anticipated to include:

  • Caterpillar tunnel: A permanent, hard-plastic caterpillar will wind around the corner of the building. You will walk into the caterpillar through an opening in Pollinator Paradise, experience the monarch life cycle and then exit the caterpillar back into the building.
  • Life-size honeycomb: Children will be able to crawl through life-size honeycomb, just like they are honeybees.
  • Greenhouse: Native prairie plants that act as habitat and food sources for pollinator will be grown in an indoor greenhouse and sold to the public for minimal cost to help people start their own pollinator gardens at home.
  • Pollen gathering: Visitors will be able to put on a pair of specially-made pants that allow “pollen” to stick to their legs, just like bees’ legs. They can then walk from flower to flower indoors and let the balls of pollen in the stamen stick to their plants. Then they will bring their pollen collections back to the hive.
  • Monarch rearing enclosure: During the summer months, monarch eggs and caterpillars will be collected and brought into a glass-enclosed area in the middle of Pollinator Paradise and will be reared into adults so people can see the monarch life cycle up close.

(Click here to see a floor plan schematic.)

Economic impact

Funding conservation projects such as Pollinator Paradise helps support the protection of our natural resources, education of youth and adults and also increase the Iowa economy through job creation for conservation organizations as well as tourist destinations such as the Dickinson County Nature Center.

Local tourism, including such destinations as Pollinator Paradise will be, generates $276 million each year in Dickinson County. An additional $5 million in local sales tax is generated annually by tourism.

The Dickinson County Nature Center continues to grow each year, with 9,799 tourists and residents visiting in 2016. Also, environmental education programs in the county reached 2,987 adults and 6,670 children.

(Click here to see more economic impact numbers.)

Additional resources

For more information about the Pollinator Paradise addition, please contact Dickinson County Conservation executive director Lee Sorenson at lsorenson@co.dickinson.ia.us or call 712-336-6352.

You can also read the Dickinson County News article on the project here or the Okoboji Magazine article on Delores Maser’s pollinator passion by clicking here.