Birds of prey take flight at Carolina Raptor Center
The Carolina Raptor Center is partnering with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation to create a $11.6 million Quest Adventure Center at the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve in Huntersville.
“This state-of-the-art environmental education center will serve as the gateway to Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, which boasts the highest number of visitors of any of Mecklenburg County’s nature preserves, connecting almost half a million people a year to the natural beauty of North Carolina’s Piedmont region,” said Jim Garges, director of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, and Carolina Raptor Center Executive Director Jim Warren in a joint statement.
The new education center has been nearly a decade in the making, spent on discussion and visioning. Now, the center is announcing the public phase of its $11.6 million campaign, “Our Quest.”
The Carolina Raptor Center has secured $8.8 million of the $11.6 million needed for the project.
The once-in-a-generation project promises to increase Carolina Raptor Center’s impact across a wide spectrum of audiences to include expanded conservation efforts, increased access to education programming and an estimated $3.88 million a year economic impact.
The project includes the design and construction of a county-owned modern, 13,000-plus-square-foot center (floor plan, site plan and elevations available) with:
▪ Interactive exhibits focused on the ecosystem at Mountain Island Lake.
▪ Expanded indoor/outdoor learning spaces to offer year-round programming.
▪ Increased administrative space for staff and volunteers.
▪ Improved amenities for visitors including a 1,000-square-foot gift shop.
A new raptor trail system will include a modern resident bird care facility and exhibit, aviaries for more than 35 species of raptors and a technologically advanced amphitheater.
Also, a renovated Raptor Medical Center will include increased capacity for the care and treatment of injured birds of prey, including eagles, owls and hawks.
The Carolina Raptor Center has secured $8.8 million, which includes $1.8 million in private resources that adds to the approximate $7 million capital project by Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation for the facility.
The support includes a leadership gift from the Duke Energy Foundation and two cornerstone gifts from Charlotte area individuals:
▪ Duke Energy has committed the largest single gift in the history of Carolina Raptor Center, pledging $400,000 toward the construction of the amphitheater, which will be named for Duke Energy, and to support the construction of the new raptor trail. Duke Energy’s ongoing engagement with Carolina Raptor Center includes program grants, ongoing volunteer participation and sponsorship of its Sustainability Salon series.
▪ Retired founder and president of Falcon Metal Corp. Bruce Roberts and his wife, Nancy, made a gift of $300,000 in support of “Our Quest,” currently the largest gift from individuals to the campaign. Bruce and Nancy began their relationship with Carolina Raptor Center more than 20 years ago when they volunteered at the fledgling center at Latta Plantation. Bruce is a former board chair of the organization, now leads the Quest Chairman’s Circle and is a member of the “Our Quest” Campaign Cabinet.
▪ Retired president of First Union Securities Ross Annable and his wife, Michele, made a $250,000 gift. Ross, who has been a financial supporter of the organization for nearly two decades, serves as a member of the “Our Quest” Campaign Cabinet.
The Carolina Raptor Center must raise an additional $1.8 million to construct the raptor trail, as well as renovate the Raptor Medical Center. A $1 million endowment is also being raised to ensure that this new community resource will inspire visitors for many years into the future.
The center’s board chairman Brian Hughes said: “CRC has raised a significant amount of the funding needed to make ‘Our Quest’ a success. We now turn to the community — including individuals, companies and foundations — to help us make this project a reality.”
Hughes is an employee of Duke Energy and is serving in his fifth year on the raptor center’s board of directors.
The Carolina Raptor Center will engage in activities throughout 2017 and 2018 to increase awareness regarding the project and to encourage contributions. Information about the campaign can be found on center’s website www.carolinaraptorcenter.org, Quest Campaign.