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New idea at Heckrodt was born in the treetops

Posted on Oct 30, 2019, by

Heckrodt’s director of fund development Chris Langenfeld (left), gives donors a peek at how the Children’s Canopy Walk will look.


A new activity area planned for Heckrodt Wetland Reserve owes its origin to a vacation taken by staff member Luke Schiller and an observation expressed by his wife, Kylie

Luke recounted to a group of 32 Community Foundation donors and staff at a special donor briefing Monday, Oct. 28, at the Menasha nature center how the couple was vacationing in Costa Rica and took advantage of one of the rainforest canopy walks.

Heckrodt’s director of education Luke Schiller (right), helps donors imagine The World Above Your Feet”

Standing there among the neotropical birds in the treetops, Kylie told him Heckrodt needs to have something like the canopy walk.

Next spring, it will.

The exhibit “The World Above Your Feet” will take visitors – regardless of their physical limitations – into the treetops. It will be built over the wildly popular natural playground called “The World Beneath Your Feet.”

The new $180,000 outdoor learning area will include a log slide, a rope tunnel, a huge eagle’s nest that kids can help build and a treetop platform large enough for an entire class to learn. The nature center’s staff still needs to raise about $80,000 of that total.

The elevated boardwalk will be built to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers, Heckrodt Development Director Chris Langenfeld says. The height off the ground will seem greater than it is because of sloping ground below, he said, and all building codes and safety requirements for such structures will be strictly adhered to.

Community Foundation CEO Curt Detjen speaks to donors at Heckrodt Wetland Reserve Monday.

Substantial in-kind contributions from a retired architect, carpenters and other volunteers will cover a good share of the costs, but Langenfeld says the nature center leadership wants to raise 80 percent of the price tag before taking the fund-raising drive fully public.  He told the audience their hope was that the breakfast event would help people to “open their hearts to Heckrodt.”

The breakfast event at Heckrodt is an example of the ways the Community Foundation can communicate to its donors about upcoming nonprofit projects or programs before they become known to the general public. We can connect our donors with needs in the community and then assist them in making a difference in the causes they choose to become involved in.


What else does a Community Foundation do? Glad you asked! Learn more here.

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