When Bergstrom Enterprises President John Bergstrom stood up to address a group of 50 Community Foundation donors, volunteers and staff members invited July 26 to learn about changes planned at the Bubolz Nature Preserve in Grand Chute, the remaining unmet cost for the improvements was $382,000.
By the time he sat down, that need had decreased by $10,000, thanks to checks presented to Bergstrom from three Community Foundation charitable funds by President and CEO Curt Detjen, who called the improved nature center “the next jewel” in the Fox Valley community. The Foundation has also supported the “new Bubolz” with a $25,000 Bright Idea Fund grant for their “Need for Nature” program.
Bergstrom and retired Kimberly-Clark Corp. executive Kathi Seifert presented numbers on what’s needed to pay off the construction cost for the impressive nature center building, where a dark and damp earth-sheltered building once stood.
Bergstrom, who now chairs the Bubolz Board of Directors, said the dream for the future of the nature center can’t happen with debt hanging over it. He encouraged those present to give to the capital campaign recruit their friends to visit it and to hold events in the several meeting spaces available for rent.
Seifert said the new board plans to bring students — especially middle and high school students — from all over northeast Wisconsin to the nature center in Grand Chute, doubling or tripling the 6,000 students that visit per year now. She said corporate and private donors are being sought to cover busing costs and sponsor school districts who want to send their students but are prevented from doing it by costs.
Better signage for the 8.5 miles of trails is coming in mid-August, an exercise course and natural play area in mid-September and a low-ropes course in the near future, she said.
The nature center will now be known as the Fox Cities Environmental Learning Campus on the Bubolz Nature Preserve. The new nature center building will be called the Faith Technologies Lodge, named after the local electrical contractor that provided a major cash donation and a cutting edge alternative energy system called a microgrid.
The microgrid system monitors and combines power from solar, a natural gas generator, fuel cells and batteries at the most efficient levels possible. The goal is for the nature center to become energy independent.
The new building, the microgrid and other improvements total $9 million, Bergstrom said.
A veteran capital campaigns for the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Menasha Boys and Girls Club and countless other community projects, Bergstrom was unfazed by the amount needed for the capital campaign and ongoing operations.
“We do get them done,” he said of the community projects. “There is nothing complicated about it.”
To learn more about the project or how to contribute, contact Bubolz Nature Preserve at 920-731-6041 or [email protected]