PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Audubon Society might look different the next time Portlanders flock to the nonprofit.
The organization received $248,000 from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to help revitalize and modernize facilities at its 172-acre wildlife sanctuary. The updates include new educational displays and signs inside and out, plus renovations to the Wildlife Care Center, nature store, nature center and offices.
The trust provides grants to organizations in the Pacific Northwest that seek to strengthen the region’s educational, spiritual and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways, according to the nonprofit.
“The support gives us the opportunity to radically reimagine our physical spaces in a new way and put specifically accessibility and inclusion at the center of visitor experience,” said Emily Pinkowitz, the director of education for the Portland Audubon Society. “That’s something that Murdock really pushed us to do.”
The Portland Audubon’s administrative offices were last renovated 27 years ago to accommodate a staff of 16. Now, the staff size has doubled, and the nonprofit has about 40,000 visitors a year.
“We have basically outgrown our space in multiple ways,” Pinkowitz said. “We also run a host of programs at the space. We run day camps, lectures, advocacy programs.”
The goal, she added, is to strengthen economic, physical and cultural access to the nonprofit.
To move the project forward, the Portland Audubon has hosted group listening sessions with organizations that work with communities of color, people with disabilities, campers, scientists and others.
“We are grateful to organizations like Portland Audubon that help increase educational opportunities and reduce barriers for learning, providing access to education about our local ecology to people from all backgrounds,” said Steve Moore, the executive director of M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. “Preserving the natural beauty of our region is why the Murdock Trust has invested for decades in conservation efforts through dozens of organizations like Portland Audubon. We are grateful to play a small role in their work and we are excited to see the outcome of this project.”
The trust said that it has contributed close to $259 million through more than 1,000 grants to nonprofits in Portland.
Pinkowitz said the Portland Audubon has a deadline to use the funding by 2024 but plans to start construction next year on the project.
“I’m excited to see the transformation, so that the interpretive center is a reflection of who we are today, and that every single person who visits has an experience that’s accessible and multi-sensory,” she said. “That way it strengthens their connection between the natural world and the sanctuary.”