Calling nature lovers: Tennessee nature center set to open
July 26, 2020
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Love the great outdoors?
If so, the new Wade Bourne Nature Center at Montgomery County's Rotary Park will be worth a visit when it opens in early October.
Named in honor of late outdoorsman, journalist and Austin Peay State University alum, the estimated 4,300-square-foot Wade Bourne Nature Center is the final piece of the master plan for Rotary Park, according to Montgomery County Parks and Recreation Natural Resources and Programming Manager Sally Burchett.
"Wade's background and his history of being an outdoorsman and really a large advocate for children becoming conservationists, and naturalists, was just a beautiful tie-in to be able to honor his memory," Burchett said. "It fit well to be able to honor him in a really meaningful way… and give our community something we don't have at all."
The center will be contained to one level, with a basement for storage, and will feature several distinct areas. Upon entry, patrons will see a contribution area to the left, honoring Bourne's legacy. Some of his television journalism will be streamed for visitors, and wall murals, with memorabilia donated by his wife, Becky, will be on display.
There is a community room with a kitchen for booked events, such as meetings, catered meals and personal events.
Another area will be devoted to a nature exhibit listing the 12 most popular species of birds that can only be found in Rotary Park, according to Burchett.
There will also be an interactive nature area geared towards preschoolers, and a back porch sitting area to allow visitors to experience nature and listen to the birds in Rotary Park's canopy of trees.
"Every exhibit in here is specific to Rotary Park from the animals, to the plants. It's a really great educational component that goes far beyond this room," Burchett said.
The main driving force behind the new center is to develop a future generation of nature lovers, giving them the opportunity to learn about their local environment, Burchett said.
Organizers are working on partnerships with local schools for field trips, home-school programs and Boy Scout groups to further that mission.
"The Wade Bourne Nature Center foundation will be a support arm for the Nature Center and try to help provide funding for programming and exhibits," said Wade Bourne Nature Center Foundation Chair Rosalind Kurita.
"We want to share Wade's legacy, his enduring love for the outdoors and his stewardship of its natural (resources)."
For Burchett, representing Bourne's memory in a fitting way is her favorite aspect of the center, she said.
Bourne was a full-time outdoor writer and broadcaster whose works appeared regularly before national listening, viewing and reading audiences for four decades, according to his biography on the nature center's website. He was a veteran contributor to the nation's leading outdoor magazines, having had more than 3,000 articles published as well as authoring six books.
Bourne was founder and host of the award-winning Wired2Fish/Hunt Radio, a syndicated fishing and hunting radio show that airs year-round throughout the U.S. on about 280 stations. He served as editor-at-large for Ducks Unlimited Magazine and was a senior writer for Bassmaster Magazine, and for more than 10 years, he hosted/co-hosted Ducks Unlimited TV, the biography notes.
Burchett was personally acquainted with Bourne, having attended Clarksville Academy with his children, Hampton and Haley. She said she remembers Bourne most for his love for nature, and she wanted the center to reflect what he stood for.
"He was a very kind, welcoming person ... a family man who loved Clarksville," Burchett said. "This building is exactly the mission of his work. He was looking to impact the love of nature in our youth, and that's what we are doing.
"We are really honoring him and his memory with something that is truly right up his ally."
As a compliment to the nature center, officials are also working on an outdoor learning component, a nature adventure trail, that will allow visitors to take what they learn inside and apply it to the outdoors.