By Laura Ragan
Submitted by: Greg Tonian
It’s been quite a while since we’ve all been able to fellowship in the way we’d like, so I’m glad for this opportunity to catch you up on the Heard’s activities.
After a long, lonely April, which saw open trails but few guests, the exhibit hall and Nature Store reopened for May, and shutdown-weary guests began flocking back. Even with interactive exhibits and programs closed, the Heard remained busy through summer and fall and continues to be busy on nicer winter days. We are so grateful for the community’s support of our mission to bring nature and people together to discover, enjoy, experience, restore, and preserve our priceless environment!
Throughout this past year, we have greatly appreciated our new and renewing members for 2020 (which include many of you – thank you!). As a private non-profit, the Heard is NOT tax-funded. Our ability to keep up with our 289-acre private sanctuary, museum building & grounds, and non-releasable animals depends on admission fees and memberships, as well as donations, paid programs, and rentals.
But more than anything else, the Heard depends on volunteers to keep its departments running. With that in mind, I’ll highlight a bit of last year and what you might expect for this year.
Quite comfortingly, the sanctuary has continued its roll through the seasons, unconcerned with the nightly news. Its intrepid volunteers have been busy through all kinds of weather replacing boardwalk, cutting new trails, and keeping the prairies from being overrun with saplings. Boardwalk replacement has gone so well that we are now looking at the very real possibility of creating wetlands access for those with mobility challenges.
And speaking of access, the trail through Animals of the World to the pollinator garden is now concrete! We appreciate those of you who were able to monitor the animals’ stress level during this loud, messy project.
The animal care, garden, and facilities departments have continued to receive volunteer support throughout the year. Pandemic or no, living things and buildings still need to be fed, enriched, cleaned, rearranged, pulled, pruned, fixed, and painted. With your help, it all got done.
As for 2021, “Covid willin’, and the creek don’t rise” still applies. We know what we want to do; we just don’t know when we’ll actually do all of it. Below are some things you’ll see at some point soon:
Sanctuary – Boardwalk replacement continues; tree-thinning is planned for Cedar Brake loop; we’ll increase stewardship opportunities for volunteers and interactive opportunities for guests.
Gardening – Too many items to mention! Weekly volunteers are needed in order to make progress.
Education – Most paid programs continue with smaller numbers; few fieldtrips are scheduled so far.
Exhibit Hall – Paleo Lab volunteers have been working to prepare parts of a plesiosaur skeleton, and we hope to install the exhibit soon. The accompanying artwork is already up and is absolutely stunning.
Plant Sale 2021– Yes, it’s scheduled!! It’ll be modified a bit, but we’re planning for April 23-25.
I look forward to seeing everything this year has in store for both the Heard and our Blackland Prairie chapter. If you’re not yet a Heard volunteer and would like to be, our volunteer application can be found at https://www.heardmuseum.org/volunteerapplication. And as always, you are welcome to e-mail with any questions or comments: email@example.com.