Access Nature


Nature Preserve Foundation’s Campaign for the Watershed Nature Center

The Watershed Nature Center is home to over 40 acres of native Illinois restored habitat- prairie, forest, and wetland- located in the city of Edwardsville.  The center features paved walking trails, a raised marsh walk, and a Welcome Center. The Watershed Nature Center is managed by the Nature Preserve Foundation in conjunction with the City of Edwardsville Parks and Recreation Department. The Nature Preserve Foundation is dedicated to providing environmental education for people of all ages, passive recreation, and enjoyment of native habitats at the Watershed Nature Center.
In partnership with the City of Edwardsville and the Recreation and Parks Department, the Nature Preserve Foundation is undertaking major park improvement project, Access Nature. This project will modify the entrance at the Watershed Nature Center to allow for greater access and understanding of native habitats located in the park. A large, open Education Meadow will host groups of students and visitors in one location at the entrance to the park and a Shoreline Classroom located next to the Welcome Center will provide direct water access and teaching in a formal, outside setting. Way finding signage, animal and plant identification markers and native plantings will enable visitors of all ages and abilities to appreciate and understand nature.  


Master Plan- Underwritten by Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery

Shoreline Classroom - Underwritten by the Edwardsville Rotary Club     
The shoreline amphitheater will be an accessible area for groups engaged in nature-based educational programs. The presence of a Shoreline Classroom located in close proximity to the Entryway and Visitor Center will allow for flexibility in teaching, efficient use of time, and a safe learning experience. This outdoor classroom will enable us to incorporate the use of scientific tools. Often, expensive microscopes are used to examine pond water and aquatic animal specimens. An outdoor classroom close to the building will enable students to examine aquatic life on-site, rather than having to carry heavy samples and equipment to the elevated marsh walk, a 1/4 of a mile away.
The Classroom will consist of a small amphitheater-style boulder seating area built into the existing hillside, with a crushed stone dust central “stage” and boulder outcroppings down at the water’s edge.  An ADA compliant concrete path will lead into space from the existing path above.  

Educational Meadow – Underwritten by Junior Service Club of Edwardsville/ Glen Carbon
The educational meadow will be installed on an area that will require significant fill to achieve the desired grade. This area will consist of an natural play are that will be an open lawn for relaxation and recreation as well as a small natural play area for children, which will include logs, stumps and boulders for crawling and climbing.  Included will be 2 different teaching gardens that will serve all nature students – “K through Grey”.  Surrounding the lawn area will be a new native meadow, consisting of a mixture of grasses, forbs and wildflowers to attract birds, insects, butterflies, and other wildlife. 

Pathways to Teaching Gardens will be located off the meadow to allow visitors to interact with the landscape. Educational signage will be added throughout the Educational Meadow to identify plant species and describe the importance of native plantings.
The Nature Preserve Foundation’s campaign, Access Nature for the Watershed Nature Center is poised to launch the public phase of this campaign with just over 50% of the total $200,000 goal raised. The full roll out of this public phase is slated to take place this summer with a promotional video, updated portion of the website, new marketing brochure and various Facebook and marketing blasts. This will inform the general public of this exciting opportunity to help make significant improvements to this special park in Edwardsville. 


Some Highlights:
•    $25,000 gift from JSC to underwrite the Education Meadow
•    $20,000 gift from Edwardsville Rotary Club to underwrite the Shoreline Classroom
•    $25,000 gift from Phillips 66
•    $5,000 Grant from Edwardsville Community Foundation
•    Matching gift award from ECF’s Community Sharing Campaign
•    Lead gift to underwrite the Education Consultant

The Timeline:
•    City of Edwardsville Electrical Upgrade to parking lot and entrance
o    Summer 2017
•    Public Fundraising Campaign
o    Fall/Winter 2018
•    Project Construction
o    Early Spring 2019-Bidding process
o    Late Spring Early Summer 2019- Construction
•    Opening and Celebration
o     Fall 2019