Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, the 200-acre old growth forest plotted right in the middle of Evansville, remains a destination for environmental education, nature conservation, and a place to just enjoy the outdoors — and they are looking to build on those offerings with new initiatives.
Through a partnership with the Alcoa Foundation, the nature preserve is looking to continue its sustainability efforts with the launch the Green Allies Initiative, a six-week course that teaches businesses and local citizens pragmatic ways of becoming a sustainable and ecocentric household or business.
The initiative, which begins in 2021, is an educational component where businesses can send their employees to learn how they can save money and lessen their carbon footprint on the environment.
Wesselman Woods Executive Director Robin Johnston-Deem, who was hired on in February, has brought new, fresh ideas to the preserve, which has led to the exploration of many new projects.
She says her hope is that Wesselman’s will move forward after a challenging year in the face of a pandemic. They closed their Nature Center for four months from March until June, preventing them from collecting admissions. Adult admission is $5; children three to 12, $3; and free for members. Deem says she expects the lost revenue will impact them at least until the end of 2021.
As part of the Nature Preserve’s efforts to grow and expand despite the circumstances, Wesselman Woods is expected to be gifted the former Wesselman Park Par 3 golf course by the city. They hope to partner with several organizations and the mayor’s office to reforest the course along with possibly including an edible forest.
Johnston-Deem says Wesselman Woods currently planning, designing and raising funds for a treehouse with the hopes of installing it in the spring of 2022. Other future projects include building a state-of-the-art bath house and possibly outdoor boardrooms.
“It’s exciting and a little overwhelming, because I feel like there are so many areas to grow and expand,” says Johnston-Deem. “The most exciting component for me is to be able to engage and share that knowledge with the community.”