April 5 update: The visitor center building continues to be open with temporary hours, Monday-Saturday, 12:00 noon-4:00 p.m.Trails remain open daily sunrise to sunset, even when visitor center building is closed.
In many ways, the education building we opened in 2006 embodies all the components of our organization’s mission. To preserve Nebraska’s native tallgrass, the source of our area’s natural and cultural history, first we must help people understand its value. The educational building supports these activities, such as providing educational services, coordinating efforts with regional partners to advocate for prairie preservation, and planting the seeds of a community that cares about their prairie.
The site we chose maximizes passive solar exposure and is situated upon a previously disturbed location just next to the existing windbreak. Some of the primary goals we literally built into it are reflected in its energy efficiency, and in the use of both salvageable and reclaimed materials and renewable, sustainably harvested materials. It is built using straw-bale construction techniques, a technique developed in the Nebraska Sandhills in the early 1900s. Other green features, like low-flow toilets, discourage wasting natural resources.
The roof’s design intensifies nature’s efficiency, blocking summer rays and inviting the sun to help heat it in winter. By super-insulating both walls and roofs, we model the responsible behavior our educational initiatives encourage. Many features, like adjustable-speed fans and solar lighting immediately outside the building along the trails, reinforce our green approach. For more specific details on the green initiatives employed in our education building, click the attachment below.