Our Capital Campaign: Pathway to New Discoveries

Campaign Update

Updated July 1, 2023:

You’ve Done It!

Since the Discovery Center’s inception in 1996, we’ve dreamed of having a truly year-round facility to house staff, excite visitors, and, most importantly, better accomplish our mission of connecting people with nature. Wisconsin’s Northwoods are 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, has been all about.

And now, thanks to support from more than 650 generous donors, you, and we, have done it:

  • Discovery Hall’s construction is complete and its doors are open. Featuring classrooms for education programs, a welcome center to engage visitors, and an interactive nature center, this 3800 square foot addition will inspire in young and not-so-young alike a true connection with the Northwoods outdoors.
  • Winter 2022-23 was consumed with fitting out our nature center with murals, a splendid mosaic, a human-scale eagle’s nest, a kids’ nature nook, new digs for our education critters, and numerous interactive exhibits, including a couple of inspiring surprises!
  • Our winterized and renovated historic YCC Lodge will host larger groups year-round.
  • Our residential cabins are now fully winterized and sport bathroom and shower connections for residential group use.
  • Our talented and expanded staff are now all housed together, allowing better collaboration and teamwork.

For you, our supporters, we have a single word: THANKS. You’ve supported us through the Covid years to the tune of nearly $4 million. You’ve enabled us to realize our long-term dream. We are now a truly year-round facility. We hereby declare Phases 1 and 2 of our capital campaign complete.

One important improvement to our campus remains. Phase 3 of our capital campaign will see the construction of a new maintenance hub, including a heated maintenance building and a separate cold storage building. We are proud to announce that our new 42’ x 80’ cold storage building is fully funded and will begin construction in summer 2023. Located to the north of the open field, it will provide a home for equipment, education materials, and all the machinery necessary to operate a year-round outdoor education center.

At this point, the price tag of a heated maintenance building – not fancy, but with a shop, an office and plumbing – is a bit beyond our means. We’ll launch that effort sometime in the hopefully not too distant future.

For now, though, it’s essential for us to concentrate on accomplishing our strategic plan by attracting new residential groups to deepen their understanding of the natural world, expanding our waters program to protect our precious resources, and providing more year-round offerings to our core audiences of school kids, families, and adults, including the growing number of retirees who are spending ever more time in the Northwoods.

For these efforts, we request, and need, your continuing support through memberships, donations, volunteering, being part of the community of people dedicated to preserving our beloved Northwoods.

Words from our Donors

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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.