The Boone County Nature School is a partnership between Columbia Public Schools (CPS), the Missouri Department of Conservation and the community, which includes all six Boone County school districts. CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood tells 939 the Eagle that the nature school and the Council House will improve thousands of lives.
“When you get one scholar to appreciate the world they live in, to not litter, to conserve water, to understand how everything is dependent on how we treat our natural resources, then that learning I think just goes on. They too will teach their children and they too will teach their children and their children’s children,” Dr. Yearwood says.
He praises the generosity of the Columbia Audubon Society, saying the project’s house portion would not have happened without their donation. Society members spoke at Wednesday’s dedication. Audubon Society member Bill Mees looked around the facility, as he spoke to 939 the Eagle about what he envisions inside the Council House.
“I see kids that are going to learn about nature. And the concern is that if people don’t understand nature and don’t learn to love it, then they’re not going to be willing to protect it in the future,” Mr. Mees says.
The 111-acre Boone County Nature School is just west of Highway 63 near Tom Bass road. It’s set to open in June 2024. CPS has committed $2-million for the nature school’s construction, while the Missouri Department of Conservation has committed $1-million. Boone County has contributed about $400,000, according to Presiding Commissioner Kip Kendrick.
CPS Superintendent Dr. Yearwood says the Boone County Nature school will be a model for the state and the nation.
“And we are hoping that we are able to establish the beginning of something where scholars in schools throughout our nation are exposed to nature and the preservation, the conservation of our natural habitat so that way we can continue to be thrive and be healthy human beings,” Dr. Yearwood says.
While its lakes and parking lots still need to be completed and there’s lots of mud, the area was packed for Wednesday’s dedication. Conservation advocates, CPS students and staff and residents were on-hand for the dedication of the Council House portion of the project.