Our 111-acre campus, based on Missouri’s rich karst topography, features aquatic, prairie, and woodland ecosystems. Additions to the outdoor space include:
- A large outdoor pavilion with adjacent bathroom facilities
- A unique, conical, 360-degree council house with three tiers of stadium seating that will accommodate up to 140 students
- Restored prairies and a pollinator plot
- A food forest with Missouri native foods, such as paw-paw and persimmon (coming soon)
- Gardens and an orchard (coming soon)
- An elderberry field
The nature school building will be completed in June of 2024 and will be an integral part of the educational experience for students and the community. Once completed, the sustainable design will focus on conserving water and energy. The approximately 8,000-square-foot building will include
- four classrooms representing Missouri’s ecosystems,
- a wet lab for hands-on activities,
- a kitchen for the preparation of native foods,
- a lobby to honor Missouri’s conservation heroes.
Materials for the construction of the building will be sourced, when possible, from Missouri woods. The architects included as many windows as possible to maintain the connection to nature, and the building will use water conservation features both inside and outside to help conserve the surrounding landscape. The land that surrounds the nature school is one of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s designated Conservation Opportunity Areas because of its unique aquatic life.
A team of staff from Columbia Public Schools and an educator from the Missouri Department of Conservation will coordinate Nature School programming, grounds and facilities.