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History

Original Behnke Farm
 
 
 Original use of Exhibit Classroom
 
 
 Exhibit Classroom ready for remodel
 
Demolition of large barn
 
WCC remodels coop into classroom
 
WCC crew member finishing floor

Brillion Nature Center:  From Coop to Classroom

1982 -    WDNR approached the administration and the board of education with the idea of leasing the Behnke farm located just west of the City of Brillion for the purpose of developing a nature trail and/or outdoor laboratory for educational purposes.

1983 -    The Board of Education formed a Nature Trail Committee to study the project in more detail.  It was the committee's unanimous recommendation that the Brillion School Board accept the concept of being the prime sponsor for the nature trail project; appoint an advisory committee to take responsibility for planning educational programs, securing funds for the trails and buildings, and follow up with any additional planning related to the DNR lease agreement. The Board voted to adopt the Committee's recommendations.

The trail and land area would be used as an outdoor classroom. Elementary students from Brillion and surrounding communities could study plants, animals, ponds, soils, etc. Other uses would include cross-country ski trails, picnic area and an adult wildlife trail and center.

1984 -    The Nature Trail Committee returned to the Board of Education with a proposal that included trail layout and usage proposals, lease proposal, and responsibility recommendations for DNR, School District and the Nature Trail Committee.

                The Board of Education approved being the sponsor at this January meeting, but turned over the operation to the Committee (which is now the Brillion Nature Center Association, Inc.)

                The committee soon finalized the lease arrangement, made plans and became a tax free, incorporated group, which also required the adoption of a constitution and by-laws.

                The Association was approved for a Wisconsin Conservation Corp project grant which provided one crew leader and five crew workers for a one-year period with all labor expenses paid by the WCC.

1984 - 1985 -    The WCC completed construction of nature trails and self-guided trail booklets, renovated a lime kiln used during the early part of the century, developed wildlife habitat, created a picnic area, constructed an outdoor toilet, developed plans for a Nature Center, and worked on several other projects.

1986 - 1987 -    A second WCC Project was awarded.  This project included finishing more trails, constructing a boardwalk, completing a parking lot, remodeling a part of the barn into a Center, creating educational displays, razing the old barn, reconstructing a maple syrup shack, and constructing a cross-country ski trail.

                            The Nature Center celebrated its grand opening in March of 1987. Located within the Brillion Wildlife Area, owned by the State of Wisconsin and managed by the Department of Natural Resources, the Brillion Nature Center itself is a privately funded, 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization operated by a volunteer Board of Directors.