Nature center praised for upgrades
YOUNGSTOWN — Ford Nature Center’s redevelopment project is among the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association’s 2022 annual Awards of Excellence winners.
Mill Creek MetroParks’ Ford center project placed second in the “capital improvement — $2.5 million and up” category of the competition.
These awards are judged by a panel of parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio.
“We are honored to be recognized for this capital improvement project and the vision of bringing enhanced nature education to the community while maintaining the historical and physical presence of the Ford Nature Center,” said Aaron Young, Mill Creek MetroParks executive director.
“With the redevelopment project completed, we are looking to put the finishing touches on the new exhibits and unveiling them to the public very soon.”
The redevelopment project’s main objective is to better serve nature education needs of the community. This was reached through improving, upgrading and expanding the facility’s function, all while maintaining its historical and physical presence.
Reconfiguration of interior spaces was needed to enhance and expand public programming with new and improved interpretive and interactive exhibits, interchangeable displays, and new wayfinding signage.
Improved accessibility was also a prominent change.
The grounds of the Ford Nature Center now strengthen the critical educational and recreational link between Mill Creek Park and the surrounding neighborhood. The connections between nature and humankind are on display both throughout the exterior and interior spaces of the center, officials said.
A new rooftop garden was installed above the new basement exhibit hall. A new wildflower meadow incorporating more than two dozen native flowers and grasses can be viewed from numerous perspectives.
Additionally, the formal landscape incorporated native plant species throughout all of the beds including the Ohio woodland garden and bird viewing area.
The Ohio Parks and Recreation Association strives to provide quality parks and recreation facilities and opportunities for all Ohioans while protecting and preserving Ohio’s natural resources, positively impacting local economies and health and wellness of its citizens.
Mill Creek Park was established in 1891 by Volney Rogers as the first park district in Ohio. In 1989, the diverse lands now known as Mill Creek MetroParks officially became a metropolitan park district. The mission of Mill Creek MetroParks is to provide park, recreational, educational, and open space facilities of regional significance.