Blandford Nature Center’s 11,000-square-foot Mary Jane Dockeray Visitor Center and Peter M. Wege Environmental Education Center are ready to welcome school groups from across the region for fall field trips, educational programs and more. The visitor center was completed earlier this summer with help from Custer Inc. and Steelcase, who partnered with them on interior design and furniture donations.
“The new visitor center celebrates the land surrounding Blandford Nature Center and we’re excited to see students and families use this new building in the upcoming school year,” said Todd Custer, Custer president. “It has been an amazing experience working with Blandford and Steelcase, and our team is honored to be part of an innovative project that has a positive impact on the community.”
The Blandford Nature Center’s new visitor center was designed to inspire volunteers, visitors and children for generations to come, incorporating natural elements that highlight the community organization. It features customized offices, a dedicated volunteer space and a welcoming lounge area. It also has larger rooms and a new auditorium to accommodate bigger groups, as well as a Wet Lab for students to study materials they find outdoors.
“The construction of our new visitor center has truly been a community-driven project,” said Jason Meyer, Blandford Nature Center president-CEO. “Our entire team is so grateful for the generous support from donors, community members and partners, including Custer and Steelcase, for their dedication to this project. This expansion allows us to better serve students, families and residents across the region and ensure the Blandford Nature Center remains a special part of our community for years to come.”
Custer and Steelcase Inc. selected furniture for the office and visitor environment at the new visitor center, donating services and products to the effort. Custer provided furniture and installation services, partnering with design/build firm Newco to support their interior design. Additionally, Steelcase donated 200 new Max-Stacker chairs. Custer employees Lana Voelker, director of education sales, and Sarah Courtnay, interior project designer, led the project.
“We wanted to support the timeless space that Blandford will use for generations to come,” said Voelker. “The space incorporates the natural design elements you would find in the surrounding nature center. We’re so pleased with the completed environment and we’re excited to see how staff, kids, volunteers and families draw inspiration from this new space this fall.”
Custer ensured the visitor center was both warm and welcoming for guests, while still being flexible and functional for volunteers and staff. It was also important that the visitor center reflect Blandford Nature Center’s brand. Accordingly, Custer selected a blue and green organic color scheme for the furniture throughout.
The new Mary Jane Dockeray Visitor Center was part of the “Growing Up Blandford” capital campaign that launched in 2015. In addition to the new visitor center, the $10.3 million capital campaign allows the organization to triple its capacity for student visits through class trips, be more open and accessible to all people, create a unique event venue and provide a stable and reliable source of income for the organization.
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