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Nature-based 4K program expanded

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – Students enrolled for 4K at the Oak Learning Center will start the new school year in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, Aug. 27 marked the opening of the Dick Resch & Family Learning and Conservation Center at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.

Students enrolled in the half-day, nature-based preschool program at the Sanctuary, in partnership with the Green Bay Area Public School District, have the opportunity to develop a love for wildfire and nature conservation at an early age.

The $3.1 million, 13,000-square-foot building, adjacent to the Sanctuary’s Nature Center, will allow the 4K program to double in size from 40 students to 80 students – which helps for a program with a long waiting list.

The additional space will not only serve as the home base for the 4K program, but also offers additional open, flexible space for Sanctuary and community special events and programs, which staff said is often at capacity.

“This is a special day for the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary and the community that it’s been a part of for over 80 years,” said Mike Reed, Wildlife Sanctuary project manager. “It’s a culmination of years of hard work and support from the community, so we’re thrilled to cut the ribbon and officially welcome people inside.”

The upper level of the facility houses a large gathering space – with a capacity of 200 people.

The lower level is completely dedicated to the 4K program – separate and secure from all other public functions.

The project was funded with monies raised by the Friends of the Wildlife Sanctuary (FOWLS), a non-profit organization, and donations from local donors including Dick Resch and the Kress Foundation.

The environmentally-friendly, two-level expansion will later be gifted to the City of Green Bay.

“We’ve had an outstanding working relationship with the city, raising money and providing facilities and exhibits that wouldn’t ordinarily be within the city’s budget,” said Dan Spielmann, FOWL president. “We are honored to play a role in helping the Sanctuary grow and expand its reach.”

The Dick Resch & Family Learning and Conservation Center opened its doors Wednesday, Aug. 28, to the give the public a look.

FOWL members were on hand to answer questions and help the public tour the facility.

For more information on the new facility or the 4K Oak Learning Center, visit the Sanctuary’s website at oaklearningcenter.gbaps.org/.

“Without this community, this would not be possible,” said Mayor Eric Genrich. “This is a fantastic building and a demonstration of Green Bay’s commitment to our people, to our children. This is something that is truly unique, not just in the State of Wisconsin, unique in our country.”

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