Oak Grove Nature Center campaign is in full swing

Posted November 22, 2017 at 9:13 pm

The Sioux County Conservation Foundation campaign to fund a new nature center at Oak Grove Park has surpassed more than $2.3 million in local fundraising.

“The support we have received is really incredible,” said Campaign Chairman Gordon Pottebaum of Alton. “We are so grateful for the support of our friends and neighbors who know the difference this facility will make in the programs that shape young people’s understanding of the natural world around us.”

“This is a smart investment,” said Campaign Executive Committee volunteer Cal DeRuyter, co-founder of Rock Valley-based Siouxland Machine. “To attract and retain the young people needed to prosper we simply have to invest in proven programming like that offered by Sioux County Conservation.”

“The nature center will be home to permanent and changing exhibits as well as year-round programming,” said Sioux County Environmental Education Coordinator/Assistant Director Sunday Ford. “We are bursting at the seams and need this space if we are going to continue to expand to meet the needs of our county.”

“Having a nature center is absolutely essential to maintaining our high quality of life,” Campaign Honorary Chairman Drew Vogel or Orange City. “When I talk to employers and new residents, the amenities they are looking for include good public and private schools, quality healthcare and access to the outdoors.”

To fund the project, a capital campaign is now underway with a goal of raising at least $4.2 million in private and public contributions.

“The capital campaign is pushing hard to secure an additional $1.2 million by the end of the year to allow us to move forward our application for an Enhance Iowa (formerly known as Vision Iowa) grant,” said Pottebaum.

“We know it is a lot to ask but this is a generous community and we pray donors will recognize the value in a building that will really be a home to conservation, education and recreation efforts in our county for the next three or four generations and step forward to make a statement about what is important.”

“This is the kind of thing our community wants to fund and we have created an opportunity for donors to get a much better return on their investment by bringing city, county and state resources to the table for this project,” said DeRuyter. “I know a lot of people are thinking about this but now is the time to step up and make a gift so we can continue to leverage all potential sources of funding.”

Campaign volunteers are soliciting gifts of all sizes, payable over a period of up to three years. Gifts to the Sioux County Conservation Foundation are tax-deductible and restricted for this effort.

“We are doing our best to meet with people and businesses one-on-one but that takes time and we need to move quickly if we are to meet the deadline for this $600,000 grant,” said Ford. “We are so grateful for the

gifts already made and look forward to welcoming additional supporters in the coming weeks. I hope those

who are interested in learning more about the nature center and the corresponding fundraising effort, will

reach out and contact myself or one of our campaign volunteers.”

“This is a unique opportunity for us to come together as a county to meet the needs of all our students for several generations,” said DeRuyter. “These are proven programs, endorsed by teachers, parents and students. This is an investment in a known quantity, a proven concept and a well-thought-out plan.”

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