July 23 • 07:06 PM

Big plans ahead for Seven Ponds

Nature center hopes community will support improvement project

June 11, 2008
DRYDEN — Proponents of Seven Ponds Nature Center are hoping that the education and sanctuary they've provided for people and wildlife alike will pay off for the future.

On Saturday, the center kicked off its Capital Campaign, an effort to raise $1.8 million to fund the center's plans and improve the facility.

The largest campaign ever undertaken by the center, director/naturalist Mike Champagne says he's hopeful that all the lives that have been touched at Seven Ponds over the past four-plus decades will come back to the center by way of contributions.

"What we really hope is that people remember that the center has been here for some 41 years," he says. "We hope people will want to give back in some way."

Plans for major upgrades to the existing interpretive building at Seven Ponds Nature Center once Capital Campaign funding is secured.
The improvement project involves renovation of and an addition to the existing interpretive building, which will be renamed the Schemm-Naish Interpretive Building in honor of those who were there at the ground floor of the center's development and success. A construction date has not been set, and depends on the progress of the Capital Campaign funding drive.

Of the $1.8 million campaign goal, $1.2 million will fund the improvements and $600,0000 will endow the center.

"These endowment monies will ensure that the nature center has the funds needed to staff and maintain the facility," Champagne says in a press release.

So far, the center has received $1.26 million in pledges and gifts from various sources including donors, foundations, organizations and individuals, Champane adds. In addition, the center's board of directors and staff members have all pledged toward the project.

A $50,000 grant from the Lapeer County Community Fund of the Lapeer County Community Foundation helped spark the campaign in early April. It will be used toward the building renovation and addition and site improvements.

The Four County Community Foundation also in April granted $25,000 to the center for the project.

Additional funding sources are being sought and pursued, Champagne says, and all current members have been notified of the Capital Campaign efforts, and they're responding with pledges, Champagne says.

"It is hoped that people in the community who have been touched by the nature center's efforts over its 41 year history will make a contribution," he adds.

Contributions may be made as a one-time gift or over time with a three year pledge. A color brochure and DVD detailing the project and plan are available for prospective contributors.

For more information about the Capital Campaign project or Seven Ponds Nature Center, call 796-3200.

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