Carpenter Nature Center expands Wisconsin facilities

Posted October 13, 2022

Tucked in the woods of near Hudson, on the east side of the St. Croix River, a new building for the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center has been completed and more improvements are on the way.

The Carpenter Nature Center has two campuses, one near Hastings, Minnesota, and the other near Hudson, according to the center’s website. The Al & Laurie Hein Visitor Center, which opened to the public on July 9, is one of a few planned expansions to the Wisconsin campus.

“We’re still finishing a few things,” Executive Director Jennifer Vieth said in an interview. Some of the planned expansions to the Wisconsin campus include a pavilion on the north end, a weather station, and electric car charging stations, she stated.

Sustainability of the center was a key emphasis in the design of the building, according to Vieth. The sloped roofs and insulation in the walls allow lower costs in the heating and cooling of the center.

“We don’t have to use a lot of energy,” she said.

Other additions such as bird safe glass are a way the center strives to become more eco-friendly, according to Vieth.

“It’s not ugly, it’s not distracting,” she said. “It’s a really cool way we can move the conversation forward on being more eco-friendly in our building design.”

Inside the center are multiple exhibits and learning stations for visitors to interact with. One is a smell station, where visitors can smell the different scents of the wildlife found
at the center.

“People interpret things differently by what they hear or smell,” Vieth said.

Although the interior of the welcome center offers these spaces, the general purpose of the building is much more, according to Vieth.

“This is more of a leaving off point than a destination,” she said. “You want people to come to the building, but then get out, enjoy the trails and connect with nature.”

The Wisconsin campus has around 10 miles of trails, according to Vieth.

“None are paved. that would be something down the road that we would like to do,” she said. “Hopefully sooner rather than later.”

The Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center is attempting to raise $250,000 to complete the rest of its planned expansion to the Wisconsin campus, according to the center’s newsletter.