Our Capital Campaign: Pathway to New Discoveries

For twenty-five years, the Discovery Center has connected people to the natural world through bog hikes and waterfall tours, lake level monitoring, and bird banding. By foot, canoe and snowshoe we help youngsters and adults alike explore, interpret, and learn. The Northwoods is a magical place in all seasons; however, our most limiting factor has always been our lack of year-round facilities. That’s what Pathway to New Discoveries, our capital campaign is all about.

Already the campaign has enabled us to complete the winterization of our historic YCC lodge, combine existing cabins with bathrooms for year-round residential use, and provide an excellent working environment for our invaluable staff. Now the time has finally come for us to realize the campaign’s showstopper, Discovery Hall. This addition will feature classrooms for education programs, a welcome center to engage visitors, and an interactive nature center to inspire a true connection with the outdoors. Along with our other improvements, the Discovery Hall will allow us to create a stronger foundation for the next generation of environmental stewards.

We pledge that all of our planning, construction, and continuing operations are being undertaken with one overriding goal: sustainability. From our all-geothermal heating and cooling system to our runoff capturing rain gardens to our use of local, sustainable materials, we are doing our utmost to provide leadership in sustainable design and performance to further the Discovery Center mission and as a model to the community. You can read much more about our sustainable features here.

Support the Campaign

If our mission and development plan have touched your heart we encourage you to demonstrate your dedication through support of our campaign. We will accept and appreciate both donations and written pledges to help us meet the challenge.

You may choose a naming opportunity, sponsorship item, or a general donation to the capital campaign fund to express your commitment.

See Naming Opportunities and Sponsorship Items.

Whether or not you choose to avail yourself of this opportunity, we want to express our sincere thanks for helping the Discovery Center realize its 25-year dream of truly being able to connect people with nature year-round.

Words from our Donors

Campaign Update

Updated February 15, 2022 :

The Discovery Center is proud to announce that we are more than 90% of the way to our goal to raise funds for a year-round facility so we may connect more people to the outdoors in all seasons.  Here is the current status:

Phase 1:

  • Our historic YCC Lodge has been fully renovated and winterized.  Its geothermal heating is maintaining a cozy 68 degrees, even when temperatures have dipped to -20.
  • Two cabin connections with bathrooms and showers have been completed, and a third is nearing completion to house residential groups year-round.
  • Thus, the table is set for expanded programming to further our mission of connecting people with nature and our vision to be a leading resource for lifelong environmental learning and outdoor recreation.

Phase 2:

We have signed a fixed-price construction contract with S.D. Ellenbecker, Inc., to build our new Discovery Hall and Nature Center addition.  Work will commence in spring 2022.  We can't wait to show off our human-scale eagle's nest, the new digs for our critters, murals, a river motif and so much more!

With your support, we have come so far, raising $3.6 million from more than 600 donors.  600!  That includes $2,249.50 from the North Lakeland School's annual change drive, as well as nature lover Max Geurts' 11th birthday money.  We're overwhelmed with the size and breadth of community support.

But we've also been subject to the twin crises of the pandemic and historic price increases for building materials - lumber in particular.  To complete the site and other work to make our campus safe, environmentally friendly, and easy to find - rain gardens, crushed granite pathways, signage, site lighting, septic, wells, and more - we still need to raise $300,000.

Our campaign also includes a much-needed maintenance and cold storage building.  We have already raised funds specifically earmarked for it, but will need to raise more beyond the above number.  Our commitment to the maintenance building is firm; we have already begun clearing the site.  However, at this time, we need to concentrate on completing Discovery Hall and the associated work to make our campus inviting, easy to find, and a shining example of sustainable building practices.

The core work of the Discovery Center has never been more important.  Exposure to and connections with nature yield not just knowledge, but also a better-informed citizenry more capable of addressing the critical environmental issues of today and for decades forward.

On this page, you will find links to much more information on the campaign’s programmatic, building, and financial plans.

Please join us in fulfilling our 25-year dream by making a pledge or donation today. And don’t forget to check out our naming opportunities for as little as a $300 contribution.


Click here to view our Capital Campaign donors!


Make a donation

Please be sure to type where you would like your donation applied into the text box on the next page when making your donation. This ensures that your donation is applied to the correct fund.

Our Mission

Our mission is to enrich lives and inspire an ethic of care for Wisconsin's Northwoods, through the facilitation of connections among nature, people and community.