Despite some lingering construction, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center is reopening this weekend. It’s been closed to the public for the past two years while a significant expansion project was underway.
On Saturday, Penn State’s nature center will host a re-opening celebration at 4 p.m., which will include a tour of the facility, local food options for purchase, an ice cream social and live music. More than 700 people are expected to turn out for the festivities.
And, starting Sunday, the center will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., seven days a week.
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“We’re really excited,” Justin Raymond, the center’s marketing coordinator, said. “It’s been quiet the last couple years since we closed. And when we had summer camp back this summer, it was really great to hear children laughing and playing outside, out the windows of the office, and it’s been really nice to get back to people being here and using the space.”
The center underwent $7.5 million in new construction and renovation — renovated exhibit space and enhanced visitor’s center, new administrative space and a new classroom building that holds more than 100.
The plan was for all of the construction to be wrapped up by Labor Day weekend, but delays over the summer bumped back the timeline for the 14 new enclosures for the center’s 18 raptors — owls, falcons, buzzards, soaring hawks and eagles — and new upper classroom building. That part of the construction is slated for completion in October.
“Shaver’s Creek will be able to serve as a nationwide model for environmental centers and university field labs, allowing us to enrich the educational experience,” Mark McLaughlin, Shaver’s Creek director, said in a press release. “We’ll now be able to build the future of environmental education and help prepare future generations to make informed decisions and choices that affect the natural world.”
Raymond said there’s an “interesting harmony” between Penn State and the public.
“So many Penn State students take programs and classes here that actually get them to be sort of the front-line interpreters, the front-line staff working with kids and families,” he said.
Shaver’s Creek is a resource for the community and provides a variety of programming. It also serves as a “field laboratory” for Penn State students “to get hands-on experience teaching about the natural world,” according to its website.