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North Lakeland Discovery Center YCC Lodge Renovation Underway to Become Year-Round Facility

Construction Manager Dick Logan is proud of the progress at the YCC Lodge at the North Lakeland Discovery Center.

“There was no heat in the building before,” explained Logan as toured the space in the midst of a renovation.

Logan is a retired DNR employee who has always wanted to find a way to support the Discovery Center.

“I told my supervisor at the time, ‘When I retire I’m going to get really involved’ well I had no idea,” said Logan.

He is now overseeing the renovations at the lodge and construction of the new nature center, Discovery Hall.

“I’m very passionate about they do here. I’m not an educator, but what I can do is help facilitate some of these things,” Logan said.

With new walls, a new roof, but an open ceiling and yet to be installed lighting, the renovation at lodge is a work in progress.

But it’s key to the progress and future of the Discovery Center, according to Executive Director John Heusinkveld, who called it a ‘paradigm shift.’

“We became an environmental education center 25 years ago and an increasingly popular one with a more and more diverse set of services that we offer,” said Heusinkveld. “Everything from environmental education programs to AIS monitoring and control in lakes, citizen science projects, volunteerism. Our role scope has dramatically increased and yet we’ve been hampered by not having an all-season facility.”

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Credit Katie Thoresen/WXPR
Renderings show what the new nature center will look like when completed.

Heusinkveld said being a year-round facility will allow them to better fulfill their mission of connecting people with the Northwoods and to each other.

“I think COVID helped to bring home one fundamental fact and that’s that nature plays a huge role in our lives and the Discovery Center is uniquely positioned to help provide that opportunity. We’re seeing that increase,” he said.

The renovations underway at the lodge will make that building useable year-round and more environmentally friendly.

All of this work support by community members and volunteers so that they Discovery Center can keep connecting people and nature.

“People love the lakes that we have and forests that we have. Learning about them and getting a better understanding just yields better appreciation of those and ultimately they become better stewards of those as well,” said Heusinkveld.

The Discovery Center surpassed its $2.4-million fundraising goal.

It now needs to raise more to cover the increased construction costs brought on by the pandemic.

You can learn more about the project on the North Lakeland Discovery Center website.  Heusinkveld encourages anyone with questions about the project to call or visit.

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