Shaver’s Creek is reopening this weekend after undergoing the largest expansion project since it opened in 1976.
Hundreds have already signed up for the grand reopening to see the new visitor center, classrooms and raptor exhibits. The nature center was closed for the past two years while it underwent $7.5 million in renovations.
Joshua Potter has been there since the start. His dad started the nature center more than 40 years ago to give Penn State students an outdoor education field lab to put classroom learning into practice.
Potter is now the educational operations manager of Shaver’s Creek.
"I think we’ve been doing wonderful programming over the last 42 years, and it’s continued to grow and expand,” Potter said. “It really was obvious that we were at a point that the facilities we had weren’t able to accommodate all the work that we were doing.”
While Shaver’s Creek hosts events for visitors, it’s also a resource for Penn State students who can take courses in environmental interpretation, outdoor education and leadership, to name a few.
Program Director Tesha Omeis said the new facilities will have more space to inspire visitors.
“The impact on this place will be about the same, but we’ll be able to inspire and host a whole lot more people.”
Despite the changes, Program Director Doug Wentzel says Shaver’s Creek's value of community and environment remains today. It's what first drew him to intern at the center in 1990. Now nearly three decades later, he heads the internship program.
“It's the intersection of people and place," Wentzel said. "We’ve been so fortunate to have so many good people both as visitors and supporters, staff, children, teachers – just good people in a beautiful space,” Wentzel said.
The grand reopening expects more than 700 visitors this weekend before its regular operations begin next week.