Alabama Wildlife Federation Celebrates Grand Opening of the Ireland NaturePlex

Close to 1000 people celebrated with the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) during the Grand Opening Weekend of the Ireland NaturePlex at the Alabama Nature Center in Millbrook, Alabama.

After remarks by AWF President, Angus R. Cooper, III and presentation of a land donation proclamation by Mayor Al Kelley and members of the Millbrook City Council, the building was dedicated with an official ribbon-cutting by Isabel Hill, whose family partnered with AWF in 2002 to make the Alabama Nature Center possible.

The NaturePlex was a huge hit for about 70 first and third grade students from Prattville Christian Academy, who were the first visitors through the doors of the brand new 23,000 square foot facility. The students enjoyed Campfire Story Time and then headed to the hands-on Discovery Hall to encounter snakes, turtles, fish, bats, bees and more. They, along with the general public, enjoyed an educational movie playing in the Theater.

The facility includes eight primary destinations.  The hands-on Discovery Hall is where students can see live animals, skins and skulls, and other wildlife related displays. There's a 120-seat Theater, Educational Classrooms with modern audio visual equipment for education presentations, a Community Room available for meeting use and rental, Main Hall, Office Complex, Lunch Cove and a Gift Shop.

“The NaturePlex will provide expanded opportunities for youth and adults to learn about Alabama’s wildlife and related natural resources for generations to come,” said Tim Gothard, AWF Executive Director. 

The NaturePlex will be open to the general public Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., plus special Thursday night programs. General admission is $5 per person, children under 3 get in free, and includes access to the hands-on Discovery Hall, Theater, Gift Shop, regular programming, and five miles of scenic boardwalks and trails, while learning about the fascinating natural history of central Alabama. Season passes and other special rates are also available.

Field Trips for public, private, and home school groups are a primary focus of the Alabama Nature Center and new features of the NaturePlex will be part of that experience. Interested youth or school groups can choose from pre-designed or customized programs developed by Alabama Nature Center professionals.

Facilities at the NaturePlex can also be reserved for seminars, conferences, business meetings and social events by contacting AWF.

The Alabama Nature Center is a Planned-Use Outdoor Education Facility offering hands-on, outdoor-based educational programs and activities for students, educators, church and civic groups, and the general public. Conceptualized by the Alabama Wildlife Federation Board of Directors in January, 2001, the Alabama Nature Center contains 350 acres of striking forests, fields, streams, wetlands, and ponds that are traversed by five miles of boardwalks and trails in three regions:  Still Creek Run, Turkey Ridge, and Hilltop Pass. The NaturePlex is the new Welcome and Education Center for the Alabama Nature Center.

The Alabama Wildlife Federation, established by sportsmen in 1935, is the state’s oldest and largest citizens’ conservation organization. The mission of AWF, a 501(c)3 non-profit group supported by membership dues and donations, is to promote conservation and wise use of Alabama’s wildlife and related natural resources as a basis for economic and social prosperity.

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