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Apps' Mill Nature Centre Reopens After Renovations

Web posted on March 16, 2017

The happy voices of children are once again being heard on the grounds of the Apps' Mill Nature Centre near Brantford, which has reopened after renovations.

The nature centre offers curriculum-based outdoor learning programs for elementary and secondary school classes, as well as nature-based programs for families, youth and community groups. There is also a very popular day camp program during the summer and other school breaks.

"The renovations give the nature centre a fresh, clean and open look," says Duane Brown, the long-time environmental education specialist who oversees the programs at Apps'. "There are more learning spaces, and our staff are excited to have students back and involved in our hands-on programs that teach environmental concepts and foster an appreciation for the natural world."

This major $435,000 renovation makes it easier for the students to get in and out of the building, thanks to a small vestibule at the back of the building for coats and outdoor equipment storage. The building is now wheelchair accessible, thanks to an elevator. A new gender-neutral, barrier-free washroom has been added on the upper level, while existing washrooms were updated. The classrooms and main entrance are also barrier-free.

"We're thrilled with the renovations, which provide an inclusive space and greater access for people of all ages to connect with nature and learn about the Grand River watershed," says Tamara Anderson, an environmental educator who will be overseeing the popular day camp program.

When spring weather arrives, students will be able to learn in the new outdoor classroom just west of the nature centre building.

The GRCA received a Canada 150 Community Infrastructure grant of $137,000 to help cover the renovation and the rest of the funding has been provided by the Grand River Conservation Foundation through donors including SC Johnson Ltd., Don and Jo-Anne Wilkin, The Cowan Foundation and the estate of Mary Stedman.

"SC Johnson has been involved from the very beginning at the Centre, and we are proud to have continued our support during the renovation. Now kids of all levels of ability can feel included as they take part in these important programs," says Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability.

The Apps' Mill Nature Centre was constructed in 1981 thanks to a major donation from SC Johnson. It has been closed since early November 2016, while renovations to improve function and accessibility were undertaken. A re-opening celebration is planned for the spring.