Natural Expansion Capital Campaign

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A Natural Expansion

The Friends of the Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc., a 501(c) (3) corporation, needs your help with the capital campaign to build a 12,800 square foot addition adjacent to the current Nature Center building. This expansion is critically needed. It will allow us to expand our innovative, nature-based 4K Kindergarten program and our popular environmental education programs. We broke ground in 2018! There are still opportunities to donate and have a room named for you, or you could donate toward furnishings and finishing materials. Can you help? Click the link below to donate now. To follow the project, click Construction Progress.

Click to Read about Other Donors:

4K Boy in Fall Leaves

4K Boy in Fall Leaves - Time to Be Kids!

4k Kids Build a Fort

4k Kids Problem Solve and Build a Fort!

4k Girl Holding Up Her Fish

4k Girl Learns to Fish

4k Kids on Tree

4k Kids Get Coordinated!

4k Kids Tree Rubbing

4k Kids Learn about Bark by Tree Rubbing

4k Boy Showing Worms

4k Boy Studying Worms

Remember Playing Outdoors?

Most adults over 40 remember spending the majority of their free time as children playing outdoors, but for a myriad of reasons, we have seen the privilege of outdoor play and exploration taken away from our children. This alarming trend is resulting in a sedentary childhood that research links to behavioral health issues and obesity. The emotional connections and attitudinal development of a nature-based preschool, along with the sensory and play-based learning of early childhood education come together to form a more powerful holistic experience than either discipline standing alone. Along with the educational advantages, the children have experienced a wide range of additional benefits that come from being out-of-doors; improved stamina, resilience, self-confidence, are but a few. An unexpected benefit has been the interaction of families from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds who have enrolled their children in the program.

Alternative Educational Opportunities

Alternative educational opportunities such as our nature-based 4 year old kindergarten are a growing trend in elementary education across the nation. We have received inquiries from other school districts and private groups interested in learning how the OAK Learning Center 4K was created and operates.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction this innovative partnership between the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, the Green Bay Public School District, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, is the first of its kind in Wisconsin. The nature-based 4K program has exceeded all projections for attendance and growth. In the first 3 years of the program, it has consistently been the first 4K to fill in the District and has a large waiting list. Families continue to call with younger children to be placed on a future waiting list. A mother, who was six months pregnant, recently called wanting to put her coming child on the list.

So Much Growth!

The Green Bay School District has asked that we add another classroom to accommodate the increased demand. In addition to the OAK Learning Center program, we have seen a growth of 186% overall in our existing programs at the Wildlife Sanctuary as well as a six-fold increase in our “Learning In Retirement” programs.

Three years ago the Wildlife Sanctuary and a group of community leaders recognized the need for a customized, nature-based early childhood education program. At that time, Wisconsin had one private, full-time nature-based preschool with tuition of approximately $3,000 per student for a half day program.

This resulted in a partnership between the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, the Green Bay Public School District, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. A Green Bay School District model III, choice school, was developed allowing parents from all local school districts to enroll their 4 year olds in this program for just a $40 fee.

The City and Friends of the Wildlife Sanctuary

The City provides the annual operating budget which covers the day to day operational needs of the Wildlife Sanctuary. Through the efforts of the Friends of the Wildlife Sanctuary, all prior capital projects have been financed through private donations and gifted to the city. The financial support of this not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization enables the Wildlife Sanctuary to offer a personal connection to nature while remaining free to the public and open 365 days a year.

Additional space is needed specifically to double the capacity of the OAK Learning Center’s 4K from 40 to 80 students. The Friends of the Wildlife Sanctuary are proposing to raise $3 million to create an environmentally friendly, 12,800 square foot, fully furnished, two-level expansion which will provide a gathering space for large groups of students and the public to enjoy, as well as a secure lower level with more classroom space for children to learn through nature.

Our Hope

Site preparation began in June, 2018. We hope to have construction completed in 2019.

The Friends of the Wildlife Sanctuary requests your help. Your support is vital to our success in meeting the needs of the community. We look forward to you joining us in our “Natural Expansion”. We believe in the power of this community to keep the Wildlife Sanctuary growing and thriving for current and future generations. We respectfully request that you would consider a gift to “A Natural Expansion”. Naming opportunities are available.

You can donate right now by clicking on the donate button below, or call 920-737-4269 to speak to Mike Reed.

Support WLS

There are lots of ways you can help! Click Support WLS to learn more.