25 Years of Nature

For 25 years, the Dunwoody Nature Center has been a feather in Dunwoody’s cap. Built by volunteers in the mid-1970s, the Nature Center has since grown to feature several camps, education programs, and events on which the Dunwoody community thrives.

The Dunwoody Nature Center plans to celebrate its Silver Jubilee with 25 small, custom celebrations, due to last the entirety of 2017.

“What we’re trying to do is bring several different activities to the park to highlight the 25 years we’ve been here,” says Alan Mothner, Executive Director.  “We’re trying to find something for everyone.”

Mission accomplished. Some of the planned activities include Grab ‘n’ Go weekend activities, a monthly seasonally-themed program, a bigger Butterfly Festival, an increased camp schedule and offering, plus much more.

“The 25 for 25 concept grew out of our planning activities with our board and we have an incredible array of activities and park additions that we feel the community is going to love,” Mothner says.  The 25 for 25 idea began as a brainstorm on a white board in the fall of 2016.  “Everything was fair game.”

One of his favorite ideas is the Tentsiles, a fun mix between a tent and a treehouse.  Arriving in the fall, Tentsiles will allow visitors to see the city from a new angle – up in the Nature Center’s trees.

Dunwoody Nature Center also has plans to partner with another local favorite, Spruill Center for the Arts, for Art in the Park, a late-October public art exhibit and community building event. Dunwoody’s own Stage Door Players will descend upon the Nature Center in the autumn for Legends and Lore, a Halloween-themed history of Dunwoody.  A farm-to-table dining experience is planned for a warm spring night, and Earth Day Weekend is growing, with hikes, yoga, and overnight camping along with astronomy and paint recycling programs.  Volunteer Appreciation Day, an interactive chalk wall, Tap into Georgia Beer Festival, and a 25-year reunion party are all scheduled to occur throughout 2017.

Additionally, Wildcat Creek has been freshly restored and the North Woods Pavilion has similar plans to expand and improve in order to better serve the community’s needs. Lights are being added to the Meadow and summer camp scholarships are being offered to local families in need.

One of the most interesting programs is Play Me Again Piano. The organization provided a refurbished piano named Bennett that sits in the middle of the Meadow and invites visitors to interact. The design – a bright, cheerful green with painted forest animals – echoed the natural setting of the Dunwoody Nature Center.  The artist, Kelly Thames Mauldin, imagined the design immediately.

“Inspiration automatically came from the flora and fauna specific to the Nature Center itself,” Mauldin says.  She cites music, art, and a fellow Dunwoody artist as inspirations to her bright, friendly work.

Another local artist, Bembry Smith, designed the 25th anniversary logo.  After hearing about the planned celebrations and the mission and history of the Dunwoody Nature Center, she created a brand-new logo that includes a rushing stream, imposing tree, and green riverbank; the design directly reflected the Nature Center and it’s purpose.

The focus throughout this 25th year is community and education, as it has been for the past 25 years.

“Throughout the planning process, we were driven by a vision to build an exceptional nature center,” says Amy McMorrow, Nature Center Board President.  “Every visitor to the park, every participant in a class, and every volunteer at the Nature Center will have an opportunity to see environmental education in action.”

From camps to festivals, butterflies to local beer, 25 for 25 at the Dunwoody Nature Center fits the bill.