Supporters of Manchester's Nature Center have formed a nonprofit foundation to maintain the center, which is used as an outdoor classroom by students at Manchester elementary and middle schools.
Volunteers plan to take responsibility for most of the upkeep of the center and apply for grants to fund educational projects there.
The year-old center, in Pine Valley Park off Walnut Street at the end of a path down the hill from Manchester Elementary School, began as the dream of town Councilwoman Charlotte Collett.
Ms. Collett, who taught second grade for many years at Manchester Elementary, developed the idea of creating a foundation to manage the Nature Center.
"We wanted to get more people involved, and we wanted to get grant money available to a private organization for educational purposes," Ms. Collett said.
Since its opening last spring, the Nature Center has been maintained by Manchester's recreation and parks staff.
Foundation members hope to attract enough volunteers to maintain the center themselves eventually.
Ms. Collett said volunteering at the center might be a way for high school students to meet their community service requirement.
"I think there's a lot of advantages to it," Manchester Mayor Elmer C. Lippy Jr. said of the foundation. "I hope it will get a good cross-section of skilled people who will handle the upkeep of the Nature Center."
A modest octagonal building, the center was built by two local volunteers, Alvin Shaffer and Vince DePalmer.
Manchester town officials got a $20,000 grant from the state's Project Open Space, which covered the cost of construction materials.
The building is 36 feet in diameter, with a wood frame, concrete slab foundation, one glass wall and a few skylights.
"We want to educate children and their parents about being guardians of nature, because when nature's gone, we're gone," Mr. Shaffer said.
Students at Manchester Elementary School have used the Nature Center and the surrounding parkland for several science projects, such as testing pond water, collecting and identifying insects, and taking soil samples.
In addition to school uses, the center is available for family reunions, picnics, Scout activities and other gatherings.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the Nature Center Foundation may call Mr. Shaffer at (410) 239-8809.
Pub Date: 5/01/96