OKOBOJI, Iowa (KCAU) – A life-size apple orchard, a food truck, a touchscreen pollinator habitat game and more are giving children and their families a hands-on experience with museum-quality exhibits that are coming to Pollinator Paradise.
The grand opening of the Pollinator Paradise to the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji is set for Saturday, November 16. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:00 a.m., and the nature center will be open to the public until 4:00 p.m.
“The nature center staff traveled to see the exhibits in fabrication at Heartland Scenic Studio in Omaha, and we had so much fun trying everything out. We know that if we had that much fun with the exhibits as adults, then our visitors of all ages are going to enjoy them even more,” Kiley Roth, community relations coordinator said.
Pollinator Paradise is a $1.2 million donor-funded project that began at the Dickinson County Nature Center in 2017, with the construction completed in March 2018.
“The goal of Pollinator Paradise is to educate while people are having fun. We want visitors to learn that one in three bites of food that we take is due to pollinators, and without them, we wouldn’t have foods that we love such as apples, blueberries, almonds, avocadoes, and coffee. Pollinator populations are decreasing, and it is up to us to help bring them back,” Roth said.
Inside Pollinator Paradise, visitors will see a life-sized apple orchard where children can dress up as a blue orchard mason bee and collect fake pollen to launch into the stigma of a flower and watch as it moves from tree to tree with the help of bees.
Then the visitors will be able to play the role of a cook inside a food truck, creating fake meals using the pollinated ingredients.
In one exhibit called the Magic Monarchs exhibit, visitors will be able to see the live monarch life cycle in the summer and also create symmetrical butterfly wing designs using colorful tiles and a mirror.
“Our human-sized honeycomb climber has been a hit since it was installed, and additional education about honeybees will be added. We also have honeybee costumes for kids to wear to immerse themselves even more inexperience,” Roth said.
In another exhibit called the Build a Pollinator exhibit, butterfly, moth, beetle, and bee bodies will be featured, where visitors will be able to pick out antennae, wings, legs, and a proboscis, which is what pollinators use to drink nectar with.
There will also be a digital game called Save the Pollinators where visitors of all ages can create a pollinator garden. Visitors will select the type of flowers and grasses, and how many they want for their garden plot. They will then get to watch how their choices impact the population of pollinators throughout the seasons.
“We’re so excited for these exhibits to be installed, and we can’t wait for the public to see them during our grand opening November 16,” Roth said.
After the grand opening, Pollinator Paradise will be open during the Dickinson County Nature Center’s regular operating hours:
- Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. year-round.
Donations for the Pollinator Paradise project are still being accepted, and you can make a tax-deductible gift to the Conservation Foundation of Dickinson County here. If you would like to make a donation, you just have to click on the donate button at the bottom of the page and write “Pollinator Paradise” in the notes to the seller section.
For more information on Pollinator Paradise, as well as blog posts, quizzes and crafts about pollinators, you can visit their website, or keep up on the latest news on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.