Tree Hill Nature Center has much to be thankful for when looking back over 2016. Here are just a few of the highlights from this past year:
- The continued and generous support of JM Family Enterprises allowed for the construction of the ‘Hen Hotel.’ This spacious and well ventilated two-story structure is home to happy hens laying an egg a day. The school children and visitors enjoy identifying the various breeds and watching the chickens take dust baths and scratch around the gardens for bugs.
- A new mural was completed by a local artist in the upstairs area, showcasing the swamp ecosystem of the northeast region.
- Support from the Jacksonville Mazda Owner’s Club allowed for the expansion of the goat pen. A rebuild was necessary after a storm earlier in the year resulted in the destruction of their original pen. The goats are now enjoying a multi-level condo with ramps for romping and climbing.
- Thousands of students from Duval County schools visited Tree Hill to learn about the native plants and animals that live around us. They receive a guided trail walk and an animal encounter before enjoying a picnic lunch and some free time to explore the trails.
- The 2016 Joseph A. Strasser Butterfly Festival was a success! For the 15th year in a row, more than 2,000 guests were welcomed to the Center. Local vendors had handmade goods for sale, musicians offered entertainment, and the day culminated in the release of more than 500 live butterflies. Plans for the 2017 Festival are underway, so keep an eye out for more information in the coming months.
There are many exciting projects on the docket for 2017, including continued renovations and upgrades to the upstairs area of the natural history museum. Spring chicks will be here before we know it, and that is a great time for youngsters and adults to visit often to watch them grow. A new beehive is being planned and should be operational next summer. The Arlington Community Garden is planning to welcome back students from Jacksonville University and has lofty goals of producing and donating more food than ever before for the food pantry at Arlington Community Services.
With old favorites, new additions, and lots planned for 2017, here is a reminder of Tree Hill’s hours and prices:
- $5 for adults
- $4 for military, seniors and students
- $3 for anyone ages 0-17
Admission for members is always free, and for $40 your family of 2 adults and up to 4 children will have access to Tree Hill for the entire year and receive free entrance into the Joseph A. Strasser Butterfly Festival. Tree Hill is open Monday –Saturday from 8am to 4:30pm.
Thank you to all of Tree Hill’s supporters and visitors for a great 2016 and the promise of an even better 2017!