Mother Nature on the Go
By Caitlin Brown
NatureStation is the Friends of Rye Nature Center’s most impactful and creative outreach program to date. This mobile exhibit is retrofitted into a 16- by 8-foot trailer and features a forest, quarry, wetland, and garden with over a dozen hands-on activities.
Brought to life by Whirlwind Creative, NatureStation was built to have the feeling of the forest using natural woods, photographs from the actual Nature Center as the background, and a ceiling that replicates the canopy of the trees on a summer’s day. The space is meant to be both a classroom and exhibit with lessons created by the Friends’ Education team.
The goal of NatureStation is to teach all ages how to connect to, care for, and preserve nature. The vehicle aims to put in many miles, near and far, in hopes of having more and more people participate and become invested in protecting our future.
Executive Director Christine Siller came up with this novel idea while editing her sister’s thesis for a Master’s in Nursing. The paper highlighted the success mobile medical units have had in providing prenatal care, resulting in higher birth rates, more full-term pregnancies, and healthier babies. She thought, “If only we could do this with protecting our environment.” And, so it came to be.
The NatureStation enables the Friends to bring ecology lessons and tactile experiences to people who are unable to interact with nature because of logistical, transportation, or financial challenges.
“Being inside NatureStation truly feels like standing in the forest. It is a close as you can get to the real thing and will tremendously enrich our outreach programs,” says A.J. Johnson, Director of Strategic Initiatives.
Siller adds, “We will bring our mobile nature center to those who have little access to parks, preserves, and science learning experiences. This is how we can save the planet.” It’s certainly a step in the right direction.
NatureStation is entirely community-funded, made possible by the generous support of The Little Garden Club of Rye, The Rye Garden Club, the Nicholas and Christina Raho Foundation, the Morris Family, and Con Edison.
<For more information, visit www.ryenaturecenter.org.>