By Katherine Schake
On October 10th 2017, satellite internet and phone lines were installed in Bison Hall at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC), putting the finishing touches on a two and a half year construction project. The educational center includes five new offices located in the upper level, a multipurpose program hall, classroom, food center, and restrooms on the main floor. With some lingering work remaining on the community kitchen, Bison Hall is now 99% complete and the doors have opened for public events.
“AWCC is a sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, research, education and quality animal care,” shared Dianna Whitney, Director of Operations at AWCC, “The education department and its programs are central to our mission.”
At 6000 square feet, the new Bison Hall will enable AWCC to enrich their educational programs including spreading the word about the wood bison reintroduction project, the building’s namesake. Additionally, in partnership with University of Alaska Anchorage, AWCC is developing new high-quality Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curricula for school groups.
The first school group of 2017 filed into Bison Hall early October to observe AWCC’s Porcupine Presentation. Over 100 participants comfortably settled into the lecture hall to meet Snickers, one of the resident porcupines, and to learn about his life from AWCC Naturalists. This is the first of many “Portage Fieldtrips” where students also have the opportunity to walk outside, exploring the many species of animals housed throughout the 200 acre property including moose, bison, caribou, bear, muskox and more.
Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area (KMTA NHA) provided two separate grants of $24,500 each to support the construction of Bison Hall. KMTA NHA supports projects that recognize, preserve, and interpret the historic, scenic, and natural recreational resources and cultural landscapes of the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm historic transportation corridor, and promotes and facilitates the public enjoyment of these resources. KMTA’s Board met on October 18th at the new Bison Hall to consider grant applications for the coming year. For more information visit www.kmtacorridor.org/grants/
Animal Enrichment Workshops are scheduled in Bison Hall the first Saturday of every month through April 2018. Participants will help develop toys for the animals housed at AWCC and enrollment is free with purchase of an AWCC entry ticket. “These workshops are a wonderful opportunity for you to volunteer and help our critters at the same time.” For more information, visit www.alaskawildlife.org. To book an event at Bison Hall email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 907-783-2025.