The Rotary Nature Center is now open to the public from 11am to 4pm on Fridays and Saturdays (it may actually be open as early as 10, but am following what I saw on the sign!).
The Center had its first open house — a soft opening — on Saturday, December 10th, and followed that up on the 17th with a Winter Craft Fair.
There are some new displays in the Center, one on the history of the lake, one on pollinators (from Pollinator Posse), one from Golden Gate Audubon on birds, a display on the 2022 red tide and fish kill (Community for Lake Merritt), and a couple on insects (Insect Science Museum of California). With others on Owls to come, and with the start of a plan for the future. Some hands on activities are present, as well as some of the original taxidermy displays (birds around the Lake, a cougar, and some owls).
The inside bathroom was redone as well. The bathrooms have been awaiting improvement for a long time!
This coming year, in 2023, look for events around Earth Day, and in the Fall for an event for the Centers’ 70th anniversary.
If you were at the opening of the Rotary Nature Center you would have found CFLM folks outside of the Center, tabling with various activities about the lake.
We had a second go of this last month, and now are at it again this coming Saturday Oct 5th.
The popup idea is just to have a series of nature related games, info, activities to attract the interest of the public and do some nature interpretation. We hope to do this regularly over time, expanding the number of activities we have, and the number of volunteers who’d be willing to share their knowledge.
A new lead naturalist, Joe Moore, started at the Rotary Nature Center a few weeks ago (we were sad to see Angelina Manno go). He came from Discovery Center West and has jumped into the issues present at the center.
The bathrooms continue to be a vexing problem (stand around long enough and you’ll likely have someone ask about them). A new problem surfaced with the water ponds for the ducks… and Joe and another new staffer Terrence jumped into figuring out how to get them filled and cleaned with the help and advice.
The bees have also returned to the center — speaking of busy. Joe is intent on bringing some hands on activities and signage to program around them. And OMCA donated a table for a digital display which they will be helping with.
Katie Noonan organized an Adopt a Spot cleanup and about a dozen of us came out to help weed. We are looking at doing these on a more regular basis.
July 27th is the Billion Year walk, from 10am-4pm starting from the Center, which a deep time exploration of the lake and our earth.
For a moment, this past Saturday, Feb 16th, 2019, it looked like it was going to be a miserable day. Volunteers had begun arriving to set up tables at 1130, and shortly after we’d gotten settled it began to pour with rain. We’d already had a good set of people stopping by, many people eager to have a look at the Center.
But the skies cleared, and people started arriving en mass. The Community for Lake Merritt board was out, helping dissect owl pellets, a game for looking at bird feet, looking at insects, and pollinators. Lake Merritt Observatory had an excellent “From the Bottom Up” table with things taken out of the lake, water testing, and someone helping interpret the new Mutual Air Bell (and air quality art project). Golden Gate Audubon was down by the water showing people the birds.
Inside, OPYRD Director Nicholas Williams started off the proceedings by unveiling a plaque in appreciation of the Core Team who have worked for the last year setting plans and policy into place. The group, which is disbanded as of the opening, has included Karis Griffin of OPRYD, Alan Briskin consultant, C.J. Hirschfield of Fairyland, James Robinson of the Lake Merritt Institute and community activist Jennie Girard. He went on to thank other groups who have contributed including Community for Lake Merritt which brought in the substantial donation which paid for the refurbishment, and the partner organizations.
Mayor Libby Schaaf then took the stage to thank everyone and honor Stephanie Benavides for her contributions to the RNC over the last 40 years. She shared her own childhood experiences at the RNC being mentored by Stephanie and shared the Patricia Polacco picture book, I Can Hear the Sun, written about Stephanie. Stephanie was also awarded a plaque to hang in the RNC and while local children held both ends she, together with the new lead naturalist, Angelina Manno, cut the ribbon officially reopening the RNC.
Photos are courtesy of John Kirkmire. More of his excellent photos are at LakeMerritt.org