• Fontenelle Forest to close Acorn Acres for major experience improvement project

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    September 15, 2022
    FOR RELEASE ON SEPTEMBER 16, 2022                                                                                                        
    Bellevue, NE                                                                                                                                                                             
    Fontenelle Forest to close Acorn Acres for major experience improvement project
    Beginning September 19, Acorn Acres will be closed for several months during renovations.
    Fontenelle Forest is excited to share that Acorn Acres will undergo a major renovation. HDR, a well-known Omaha-based engineering firm, has been contracted to lead the project. Acorn Acres, Fontenelle Forest’s one-acre natural play area for children, will close September 19, 2022, and is expected to reopen in mid-2023 as a completely reimagined, nature-inspired playscape for children and families to engage with the outdoors.
    The vision for the renovated Acorn Acres is to create an inclusive, nature-inspired experience that incorporates elements from nature to educate and engage visitors. The new and improved Acorn Acres will give children a place to be creative and use their imagination for unstructured play. Instead of conventional manufactured play equipment, Acorn Acres will feature trees, logs, and rocks to stimulate the sense and provide a gateway for children to feel comfortable in nature. HDR’s rendering of the reimagined space is included below.

    “We are extremely excited about the opportunity to reinvent this space. Our goal is to offer new and engaging ways for parents to spend time with their kids in nature, have fun while also learning about the natural world, and maybe even get a bit dirty,” said Matt Darling, Executive Director of Fontenelle Forest.
    “It’s important to note this will not be a playground or splash pad. It is essential for Acorn Acres to remain a complimentary experience to walking through the Forest itself. Additionally, inclusivity is a big focus for this project - we want children of all ages and abilities be able to explore Acorn Acres with their families and experience the outdoors in whatever way works for them,” said Darling.
    A key element of Fontenelle Forest’s mission is to inspire current and future generations to care for the natural world. By providing a place for children to play in a natural setting, we hope to strengthen the connection young people feel to the outdoors. Outdoor play gives children a place and a reason to unplug, as well as the opportunity to be more physically active. Spending time outside also can improve your mental health, reduces stress, develops social skills, and results in better academic performance and overall happiness.
    For the safety of visitors and staff, we ask that guests refrain from entering Acorn Acres during the renovation. While these upgrades are being made, we encourage children and their caregivers to take the opportunity to visit Habitat Hollow, our indoor nature-based activity area for children (located in the lower level of the Nature Center).
    For any press inquiries, please contact Dana Meyer, Manager of Marketing and Events at Fontenelle Forest.


    About Fontenelle Forest
    Fontenelle Forest’s mission is to provide a place where people can experience and enjoy the quiet wild of nature. We want to inspire current and future generations to care for the natural world through conservation, education and recreation. Fontenelle Forest is one of Nebraska's oldest conservation organizations and one of the largest private nature centers in the nation. With the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center in Bellevue, and our Neale Woods property in Omaha, Fontenelle Forest encompasses over 2,100 acres of forest, prairie, wetlands, and Native American historical sites along the Missouri River. 
    The Raptor Woodland Refuge, located at the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center, provides visitors with an opportunity to observe many species of birds of prey in a unique, tree-top environment. Fontenelle Forest is a leader in raptor conservation education, conducting statewide raptor education programs. 
    Bridget Hanson, Marketing and Communications Assistant
    bhanson@fontenelleforest.org, (402) 731-3140
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