It took me about 30 seconds to remember why I love the Adkins Arboretum. As I walked across the new entry bridge, I stopped twice for large bullfrogs, once when a large deer splashed through the marsh, and another three times to listen to the “plonks, poinks” and “BRAAPS” of other native frogs. So much life is down below that bridge! I was half tempted to go grab my boots and climb down in there.
But I was there to tell the story of their campaign, not to frolic with marsh creatures.
Delmarva’s treasured living museum, the Adkins Arboretum, kickstarted their capital campaign last week with a goal to raise a final $3,000,000 to complete their facility upgrade. As the only outdoor center on Delmarva to highlight our region’s unique ecosystem, the organization intends to raise 60% of the construction costs needed before putting a shovel in the ground in the fall of 2015. Led by Peter Steifel’s $1 million gift, over 50 organizations and foundations have joined hundreds of other donors in raising $4,500,000 so far.
The opportunity is great. With only one tiny multi-purpose room to serve as a gallery, classroom, seminar and conference room, the organization has managed to serve thousands of children and adults each year with opportunities to experience Delmarva’s unique natural heritage. New infrastructure including a gallery, an open air classroom and a new multi-purpose pavilion will increase student participation in outdoor education by 500%. And that’s critical, in a time of heightened emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) in our region’s school districts.
The new space will allow the Arboretum’s extensive collection of books and publications to come out of a storage facility on Kent Island and be placed in the public eye – accessible to visitors and scholars. An outdoor classroom and open pavilion with seating for 200 will extend the organization’s ability to provide multiple offerings at one time. From musical performances to lectures, the new space will inspire with broad views, open access and handsome natural materials. The new gallery will allow for more art, more accessible to all.
Architect Andrew Hertig of Lake/Flato Architects presented his architectural designs on Thursday to a crowd of some 3 dozen supporters gathered in the small classroom that is the Arboretum’s entire public space at present. Describing the newly revised plans for gallery space, walkway, classroom and gardens, Hertig said that the re-design keeps all the functionality while addressing the new economy. His designs are inspired by nature and showcase the special place that is Adkins Arboretum.
The new facility will enable this organization to continue to nurture the environmental, cultural and social health of the region, connecting us all with wild Delmarva. From conservation landscaping seminars to nature walks, community lectures, art and native plant education, Adkins Arboretum has proven to be a Mid-Atlantic treasure. This is a cause to support.