Outdoor ECFE Nature Explore Center
The artist selection process was funded, in part, by a grant from the Central MN Arts Board, through appropriations from the MN State Legislature with money from the state's general fund and its arts & cultural heritage fund that was created by a vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.
Look deep, deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein
ECFE Nature Explore Center Background
Early Childhood Family Education was awarded a grant from Dimensions Educational Research Foundation to develop a Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom Demonstration Site overlooking historic Handke Stadium in Elk River. In addition to this grant, we received funds from Great River Energy, Elk River Abatement Funds and the ECFE Advisory Council and began the first phase of development in May, 2010.
Phase two of development continued with working on developing areas within the Classroom (now called the Nature Explore Center) and planting perennials during the summer of 2010. Working with Forecast, the committee put together a plan to issue a Call for Artists in helping us to design an entrance gateway and plaza. The call was issued winter of 2011 and three final artists were selected to submit designs during the spring of 2012.
Summer of 2012, ECFE held a public Artists' Reception where the finalist featured their final art recommendations. Sue Seeger was selected as the final artist to work with ECFE to design the entrance gateway and plaza. Read more here in the Star Newspaper: Finalist selected for ECFE Entrance Gateway and Plaza Funding sources were identified in order to build the gateway and plaza. Summer/Fall of 2012 planning includes working on installing a Native American teepee on the grounds. All funding for these projects are provided by outside sources.
Winter of 2013 brought excellent news. A grant was awarded by CMAB to fund the entrance gateway and partial plaza in the amount of $17,300. Plans to begin installation during the summer of 2013 are in the works.
Spring of 2013 brought new changes to the center with 2 new art tables, new onsite storage for tools and toys, a bench in the sand area for families to sit on while their children play. Plans continue to install a brand new greenhouse on the cement pad in the upper part of the Explore Center June 2013 thanks to special funding from Great River Energy.
How can you get involved?
There are a number of ways you can get involved! We currently are seeking committee members to serve on our Nature Explore Center Committee that meets once a month in the evenings. In addition, we are seeking monetary, materials, services and plant donations throughout the year. To become involved, please contact our ECFE office at 763-241-3524 or email: ECFE@elkriver.k12.mn.us
Did You Know?
Research shows that when children have regular contact with nature they learn and grow better…physically, developmentally and in relationship to the natural world.
An activity to try... Take an I Spy walk with your kids!!!!!
“In this fast-paced society, we often rush children from place to place so quickly that they stop paying attention to the details of the world around them. The next time you take a walk with children, encourage everyone to see how many natural wonders they can find. Examine the spider’s web on a downspout or talk about how the dandelion can poke its way through a crack in the sidewalk. Even in cities, nature often finds a way to make its presence known and to survive, a good life lesson for us all.” From Teaching and Learning about the Natural World by Nancy Rosenow in Young Children, January 2008.
Thank you to our volunteers and donors!
The ECFE Nature Classroom Committee is incredibly thankful for all of the volunteers who work in our outdoor Nature Classroom or who donate supplies or funds to our grounds. Summer of 2012 features numerous volunteers who are weeding, planting, watering and making our grounds beautiful! Special thanks to Liz Frink, our Volunteer Coordinator and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) volunteers for their commitment. May 2011 brought 37 volunteers from the Minnesota School of Business and the Nature Classroom committee worked together to weed our 1/2 block long perennial flower bed, remove sod, add compost, cut in a new perennial bed and add hundreds of new flowers! Special thanks to Sue Hix and Melinda Goetsch for their wonderful plant donations. The community, ECFE and the children who attend classes at The Handke Center sincerely appreciate your time and commitment.
The following people and organizations have donated their time, energy or funds to the Nature Classroom:
- Forecast Planning Arts
- Central MN Arts Board
- City of Elk River Abatement Funds
- Dimensions Educational Research Foundation
- ECFE Advisory Council
- Elk River Municipal Utilities
- Great River Energy
- Jesse Ewert Tree Service
- Nelsons Nursery, Zimmerman
- Pletscher Greenhouse
- Brad & Brent LeBlanc
- Jenny & Dan Niblo
- Melinda Goetsch
- Sue Hix
- Julia Nielsen
- Charlie Blesener
- Kathy Simonson
- Tom Baranick
- Liz Frink
- Matt Frink
- Nature Classroom Committee Members