Scores of school children will have a dry place to study birds at the Ellis Bird Farm should today’s weather be as foul as it was Monday.
The bird farm celebrated the official opening of the Wetland Centre with a ceremony Monday.
“Our board (of directors) can see there is a need for a building like this,” said Myrna Pearman.
Pearman is the biologist and site services manager at the farm that started running school programs last year and attracts about 10,000 visitors yearly.
More than 1,200 school kids from all over Central Alberta participated in last year’s programs, which run during the last five weeks of the school year.
“There were several rainy days last year so rather than see the kids get wet we decided to build a shelter so they can come in when it’s raining and still do work inside when it’s nasty and wet.
“They can come in here and learn about pond ecosystems and aquatic creatures,” she added.
The farm was successful is obtaining a provincial-based Community Spirit grant that provides grant funding to Alberta-based non-profit organizations to support operations, programs and/or capital projects. Two other major donors were the Patton family of Calgary and memorial donations for Diane Johnson, who died a short time ago.
Pearman said Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ray Prins was instrumental in helping the bird farm obtain the grant.
“This is an absolutely fantastic little project with a lot of kids coming through here,” he said.
“It’s also a huge benefit to the community because it not only draws tourists but it shows the kids, adults and seniors just how important our environment is and that we must strive to protect and sustain it.”
A builder from the Markerville area, who constructs small barn-like structures, was contracted to build the centre deck and structure.
Bird farm staff managed to round up some old cupboards and built a counter top to place microscopes around for the students to work.
Pearman said as many as 100 school kids a day will come through the centre for two-hour morning and afternoon sessions.
The bird farm is located just to the east of Lacombe on Hwy 12 to Prentiss Road South. It’s open 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. until Sept. 1 Tuesday through Sunday and holiday Mondays.