Gathering Spaces Connect Communities

The Fenner Nature Center is building a new pavilion, and we need your help.

For years, Fenner has provided high-quality environmental education programs and experiences for Lansing-area families, and we want to create even more ways to connect people with nature. To accomplish that, we are updating our grounds to add a 2,560-square-foot pavilion that will create space for community gatherings, special events, arts and education.

This idea grew out of an urgent need to accommodate our ever-growing roster of group meetings and low-cost community classes and programs. We have a long history of engaging youth and families in place-based learning across the Lansing region, but our current facilities can’t keep up with demand. The only meeting option for groups is the basement of our Visitor Center, but its small size allows only one group to meet at a time. The pavilion will be nearly five times larger than that space with capacity to accommodate up to four groups simultaneously.

In the last year alone, the nature center has provided over 350 low-cost or free school programs to more than 12,000 youth from schools, Scouting groups and other affiliate nonprofit youth centers. The goal has always been to raise the level of environmental literacy within our community, and the pavilion would change the face of how we deliver education and connect with others in the city and across the state.

As a bonus, the pavilion will also allow us to provide a new public venue  in the Lansing community for graduations, weddings and other special events. There’s really no end to the uses that this pavilion could serve, but we need the community’s help if we want to make this dream a reality.

Universal Access to Nature is a critical part of the Fenner philosophy.

This will truly be a venue for everyone. The new pavilion will allow us to accommodate visitors with a wider range of mobility and learning abilities. Our current Visitor Center was renovated in 2017 to incorporate universal design principles, and those changes helped us to engage the senses and educate across a wider audience. These same principles will carry into the new building.


The building will be equipped with soft LED lighting and low allergen materials as well as volume-adjusting audio-visual equipment to ensure a safe sensory environment. Interpretive displays will incorporate touchpads, large-screen televisions and a unique audio tool called the sensory pen that enhances learning for those who need, or prefer to use, assistive devices.

Additionally, the new pavilion will come equipped with universally accessible and non-gender restrooms and be located along our accessible paved loop trail which allows unabated access to our central pond complex, pond docks, our maple grove and our public festival grounds.

The new pavilion will offer a variety of uses for the community and will:

  • Be located along our paved accessible pathway to  allow wheelchair accessibility to the new space
  • Offer four-season finished classroom space for programs, reunions, weddings, corporate events and community gatherings
  • Incorporate art and exhibition space for local artists to display their work
  • Expand the programs offered by Fenner to include Fenner Folk School and the Prairie Preschool

How YOU can support this great project…

If we meet our crowdfunding goal, our project will receive matching funds from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. which will effectively DOUBLE THE IMPACT OF YOUR DONATION.

Every gift counts no matter the size, so please invite your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues to donate even $1! There are various levels you can achieve in recognition of your support.

If you prefer to make offline donations, you can mail or drop your donation in person at the following address:


Fenner Conservancy | 2020 E. Mount Hope Ave. | Lansing, MI 48910