Bear Branch nature site building 'correct' kitchen

November 22, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Volunteers began work on a kitchen at the county's second nature center yesterday, and, when they're through, the stove won't work, the refrigerator won't be cold and the microwave might just as well be a breadbox.

And the folks who run the Bear Branch Nature Center don't mind.

After all, the kitchen isn't meant for cooking -- it's an environmentally correct educational tool designed to let people know how they can help the earth in their kitchens.

"So much can be done at home to protect the environment, and we hope this kitchen will show where steps can be taken to reduce waste and pollution," said Melinda Byrd, the county's nature center administrator.

Behind the counters, inside the microwave or in the freezer, signs and displays will explain alternative ways to cook, clean the sink or throw away the trash.

Nearly two dozen volunteers turned out yesterday for Bear Branch's monthly volunteer day.

Since the building, in the Hashawha Environmental Center, was constructed in spring 1991 for nearly $450,000, the county has run out of money to fill it with exhibits.

That's where the monthly volunteer days come in.

In fact, without volunteers, Ms. Byrd said, much of what is going on in the building would be nothing more than an idea.

"We really rely on our volunteers," she said, showing off incomplete exhibit areas and research rooms. "Without them, I don't know how we'd get a lot of this done."

About 150 people have volunteered more than 2,000 hours to the center in the last year or so, she said.

More than $50,000 worth of materials, including the $1,500 kitchen cabinets installed yesterday, have been donated or built, she said.

About half of the 7,000-square-foot building is finished. In that half, volunteers are busy with the mock kitchen, a resource library, a puppet tree, a white-tail deer exhibit and an interactive activity room for children.

In the unfinished part of the nature center, volunteers from the Westminster Astronomical Society are set to begin work on a $25,000 planetarium, where sky shows and constellation tours will be presented.

The Bear Branch Nature Center is expected to open in May, Ms. Byrd said.

For information on how to volunteer or become a member of Bear Branch Nature Center or the Piney Run Nature Center in Sykesville, call 848-2517. Both are run by the Department of Recreation and Parks.

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