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"Sue Dalton has inspired and enabled us to dramatically expand the Dalton Discovery Center with a second leadership commitment, and she is being joined by other generous benefactors, including John and Carol Walter, in helping to bring this dream to life," said Conservancy President and CEO Rob Moher. "As part of the Conservancy's Vision 2025 roadmap addressing key priorities facing Southwest Florida's land, water, wildlife and future, we are enhancing our Nature Center and guest experience with new exhibits and activities that will further the educational mission of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida."
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The Dalton Discovery Center renovations and expansion include exciting new enhancements such as an Augmented Reality Endangered Species exhibit that will allow guests to interact digitally with Florida's threatened animals.
"Thousands of visitors, including many school groups, have learned about the region's ecosystem and environment by touring the Discovery Center, and I'm pleased to support the comprehensive renovations and expansion that will further educate and engage Conservancy members and guests," said Sue Dalton, donor and namesake of the Dalton Discovery Center.
To accommodate the ambitious construction timeline, the Conservancy Nature Center will close to the public until the project's estimated completion in early 2021.
The Dalton Discovery Center currently houses six immersive ecosystem exhibits under one roof: Introduction Gallery, Uplands, Everglades, Mangroves, Sandy Beaches and the Ocean Gallery.
The new Invasive Species Gallery in the Walter Discovery Wing will explore Burmese pythons, the new apex predator in the Florida Everglades and a focus of the Conservancy's nationally recognized Burmese python research and removal efforts. The gallery also will examine lionfish, cane toads and invasive plants.
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"An integral component of the Conservancy's python research and removal program is educational outreach, and this exhibit will help to showcase the true scale of the invasive animal problem in Southwest Florida," said Ian Bartoszek, the Conservancy's environmental science project manager.
The Conservancy launched virtual learning opportunities to connect audiences of all ages with information and resources about the region's wildlife and coastal habitat. The comprehensive virtual curriculum includes lesson plans, hands-on activities, educational videos, scavenger hunts and links to other valuable resources, and is available online at http://www.Conservancy.org/Virtual-Learning.
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