The future home of the Bayport-Blue Point Public Library will include an innovative “Nature Explorium” outdoor nature center, thanks to a $350,000 State grant secured by Senator Monica Martinez.
An approach to nature education that had originated about a decade ago, a Nature Explorium is an interactive, outdoor learning center that provides an attractive space for children and their families to have contact with nature and participate in active programs that will help them appreciate the environment. While plans for the Nature Explorium have not yet been completed, similar sites have offered both self-directed and group educational programs for preschool through upper elementary school-aged children and their parents or caregivers.
A portion of the State funds will also help underwrite landscaping costs on the grounds of the future facility at the site of the former St. Ursula Center at 186 Middle Road in Blue Point. The present structure at the venue, now undergoing redevelopment, is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2021.
“On behalf of our library patrons, we applaud former Senator Monica Martinez for securing State funding in support of both landscaping and an exciting Nature Explorium at our new facility,” said Ronald F. Devine, Jr., President of the Board of Trustees of the Bayport-Blue Point Public Library. “The Nature Explorium will play a valuable role in helping our community’s children develop their appreciation of nature.”
The Nature Explorium concept was developed by the Nebraska-based Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and the Long Island Nature Collaborative for Kids, a project of The Early Years Institute in Port Washington. “These spaces inspire hands-on activity, creativity, play, and time to explore the natural world for children of all ages,” said Heather Fox, Director of Communications and Outreach for the Nature Explore Program, a division of the Dimensions Foundation. “They offer interactive elements that allow young people to use their creativity, imaginations, and initiative.”
There are about 450 Nature Explore-certified programs in libraries, schools, parks, and other venues throughout the country. Of the eighteen in New York State, ten are on Long Island. Middle Country Public Library in Centereach became the nation’s first library in the country to open such a facility in 2010.
As described by the Middle Country Public Library, “The Nature Explorium provides children with the opportunity to learn and reinforce valuable life experiences, including the development of observation skills, visual-spatial skills, and social skills. It offers a unique way to connect literacy, learning and an appreciation for nature as a regular part of the library visit.”