NELSONVILLE, Ohio—Hocking College christened two new additions to the school’s educational offerings Tuesday afternoon, April 6, 2021.
During a dual ribbon-cutting ceremony, the college opened the new Hocking College Nature Center and the Hungry Hawk Food Trailer.
The Nature Center represents several years of planning, renovation and creation by students, faculty and staff.
In 2019, Parks and Museum Education students developed the new space concept in one of their classes and presented the final project to the college’s administration for approval.
Located on the south end of the Nelsonville campus, the center replaces the old Hocking Woods Nature Center located in the woods on the school’s north side. The new modern facility is home to snakes, turtles, fish and a descented skunk, as well as interactive exhibits about geology, trees, pollinator habitats and more.
“Our focus is on showing visitors the natural world around them,” Dr. Daniel Kelley, dean of the School of Natural Resources at Hocking College, said. “Our students and staff will share their knowledge of native Ohio wildlife, geology and plant life.”
The center serves as a live-learning lab for students from throughout the School of Natural Resources. Fish Management and Aquaculture Sciences students maintain the massive fish tanks, and Agroecology students will maintain the native-plant garden that will be put in next to the center, to name just two.
Natural Resources students weren’t the only ones involved in the nature center’s development.
“As a self-performing project, this new space is just one of the examples on the campus of our staff and students working together to create modern learning environments,” Dr. Betty Young, president of Hocking College, said.
Self-performing projects use the college’s facilities staff, student workers and construction management students to develop and complete projects. Keeping most of the work in-house allows Hocking College to lower construction projects’ costs and do more with less.
The Nature Center is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Funding to support the Hocking College Nature Center’s development has been provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Hocking College Foundation and private donors. It will meet standards from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Zoological Association of America.
During the ribbon-cutting for the nature center, guests were tempted by the smells from the college’s other new addition: the Hungry Hawk food trailer.
Serving modern takes on classic barbecue staples, the food trailer serves as a live-learning lab for the college’s Culinary Arts students.
“Food trucks are the fastest-growing segment of the food industry,” Young said. “This new trailer will allow our amazing Culinary Arts students to get the hands-on experience they need to work in a unique environment. It will prepare them to work for someone else or strike out on their own and start a food truck.”
The spring and summer wear on the trailer will serve food at local events.