Austin residents with an interest in natural science have free access to 80 acres of green space and educational exhibits, animals and green space within easy reach at the Austin Nature and Science Center, which hosts over 230,500 annual visitors and holds over 100 educational and wildlife exhibits.

And although the center remains closed to the public amid the coronavirus outbreak, the ANSC is gearing up for several projects.

In May, local nonprofit organization Friends of Austin Nature and Science Center kicked off its campaign to raise $250,000, which, if raised, would go toward critical maintenance and landscaping needs as well as toward several new projects.

The money would allow the ANSC to construct an accessible treehouse, which could be used to host school and community events. The center could also see the addition of a pergola and natural shading at its existing Dino Pit exhibit.

Unfortunately, with many residents remaining home amid the coronavirus outbreak, fundraising has proved difficult for the nonprofit, according to Martha Steinle, a representative of Friends of ANSC. The organization has obtained a grant which would fund a majority of the Dino Pit project; however, the nonprofit is required to raise a matching amount in order to receive the funds.

In light of these challenges, the Friends of ANSC is inviting the community to play a role in building the center’s future. In honor of those making donations, a recognition wall and engraved path will be constructed on-site.

Those making donations between $5,000-$50,000 will see their names displayed on the recognition wall at the visitor’s pavilion. Donors contributing $250-$500 will be recognized on engraved bricks within the Dino Pit.

All donations, regardless of the amount, will be accepted and greatly appreciated, according to Friends of ANSC.

The projects are scheduled to be accomplished in phases, with the Dino Pit project set to break ground this summer, according to Steinle. Phase Two will encompass the treehouse project.

For more information on how to make donations, individuals should contact [email protected].