The Enhance Iowa Board of the Iowa Economic Development Authority has awarded the Winnebago County Conservation Board a $250,000 Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) Grant in support of the proposed Winnebago County Environmental Education Center. The Grant was awarded at the Board’s August 20th meeting and will cover approximately 18% of the $1.39 million project. Winnebago County Conservation Board Executive Director Robert Schwartz explains.
The proposed Center will be centrally-located in the county along Highway 9/69 north of Leland and will expand environmental education opportunities in Winnebago County. The building will have a post-and-beam design with a 28’-high vaulted ceiling and will encompass 7,680 square feet over two levels. The structure will incorporate a variety of green design elements and will meet ADA specifications for accessibility. It will include a large program room, an exhibit area, a workshop, a staff meeting room, offices, and a kitchenette. When completed, it will contain exhibits and interactive displays for visitors and will also be used for programs and meetings.
The Conservation Board met this week and made some key decisions according to Schwartz.
The WCCB, and their affiliated foundation (The Friends of Winnebago County Conservation Foundation) began officially raising money for an Environmental Education Center in June of 2018. Over the past two years, the two organizations have raised over $1 million for the project, thanks to many donations from individuals and small businesses, as well as numerous small and large grants. The hope is that the bids will come in under budget in order to expedite the construction process. Regardless, the board will continue to fundraise.
The plan is to have a Grand Opening sometime in 2021.