[Bristol-Birds] Steele Creek Park Nature Center gets needed makeover !

  • From: "Wallace Coffey" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Bristol-birds" <bristol-birds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2012 18:34:45 -0500

Steele Creek Park Nature Center in Bristol has
recently undergone quite a makeover.

If you haven't been there in some years, months
or weeks it is a good place to spend awhile during
a cold winter day and enjoy the new display layout.

It is the handiwork of staff naturalist Don Holt.
Don spent many quality hours planning how it 
would come about and just what went where and
had the best educational an interesting impact. 

I had the opportunity to visit the center when he was first starting
to get the big picture of how this should come about.  Then, a few weeks
ago, enjoyed his giving me a walk thru to see the results and experience
the pleasant and appealing results.

The meandering and random
placements of aquariums and
larger elements offer a miniature
walking adventure as you wait
and look around each turn to
feel the flow and enjoy surprises.

His creativity is not only artsy 
but drops subtle hints of a 
professional museum mindset,
even if all of the items do not 
match his same curatorial skills.

It is a refreshing and fun revisit
to a layout put in place and slightly
moderated during the past five years
with a few new items -- begging
for both a good dusting and more
something new than something old.

 You will quickly appreciate the educational additions that feature new details
 and new depth for adults.  Let alone the big-eyed, giggles and touch me 
invites from
 the hands on layouts and little hands exploring items reduced to a child's 
 world and perspective.
Geese flying overhead and a
fox peering over a display
bring many of the mounts to
life.  Even long-valued entries
are given new views and new
ways for naturalists to get close.
To see details and look some 
fairly-thrilling animals in the eye.

Holt's extensive knowledge from
years afield and nearly as many
more as an educator with school
children at other environmental
camps and the University of Tennessee
4-H Center at Greeneville have
 allowed him to store his knowledge and sharpen his view of understanding of our
 natural world.  Perhaps the city should have an open house called the Best of
 Don Holt  and let his friends and others from around the region come to 
 the excitement and appeal.  They could take a moment to share with Don, other
 naturalists and everyone can express their gratitude for what the City of 
 Tennessee has created and presented.  And tell Don and staff the same.

In 1970, we set out to create a special
nature center that would steer park 
visitors from the temptation to have 
nothing more than overly materialistic
and massive architecture. Guide them to
a simple, compact and relaxing walk thru 
nature center which would interpret the
vast and well-documented Steele Creek
Park natural history.  At the center of the
focus was to avoid the greedy, needy,
hunger and thirst that bureaucrats and
insecure administrators worship
to count heads or running staff in and
out of school rooms like a fire inspector
in a dog costume.  To not satisfy ourselves
with six figure numbers of child visitors 
flowing thru the displays, pinching and pushing while the adult chaperones and 
teachers gossip and visit in the back.  To give visitors something to remember
and not an experience they barely remember.

 For years the city and the center have valued this quality experience rather
 than the bottom-line attendance head counts filed away, not read, in stuffy
 reports -- proof of accomplishments and satisfactions the real world doesn't
 see, seek or value.

 Now we have the presentational and educational tools to continue the pace
 and keep the vigil for the natural history at Steele Creek Park and not be
 signed out to talk about far off animals in a rainforest or prehistoric 
 from somewhere else.  There are others who have that mission and do it well.
 There are others with the resources and facilities and that natural history to 
 There are others who do environmentally sexy stunts when they know little else 
to do.

 No one communicates, teaches and entertains you about the natural history of
 Steele Creek Park like our nature center program and its staff.  

 Don Holt's vision and hard work gave it all a much needed transfusion and new 
 lease on life, just when the nature center needed it.  With class and style !

 Thanks, Don !



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  • » [Bristol-Birds] Steele Creek Park Nature Center gets needed makeover ! - Wallace Coffey