MDC and Columbia Public Schools begin construction on Boone County Nature School

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COLUMBIA, Mo. – Plans to move forward with the construction of Boone County Nature School, a partnership project between the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Columbia Public Schools, are taking huge leaps. Construction of the new Nature School classroom building is set to begin in a matter of weeks. The new building was designed by PW Architects, and Columbia Public Schools has awarded the bid for construction to Verslues Construction Company of Jefferson City. Construction should be completed by March of 2024.

The new 8,230-square-foot building will house four nature-themed classrooms, lab space, nature and student-related lobby exhibits, and offices. The building and associated grounds will serve students from all six Boone County school districts through unique “place-based” education as well as the public through special conservation-related programming.    

“The Boone County Nature School will be a special place for students to experience the wonder of nature,” stated MDC Regional Education Supervisor Brian Flowers. “Students who visit here will learn about Missouri resources in a whole new way as they learn new skills and explore the fields, woods, and waters together.”

Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood agreed. “The scholars from Columbia and Boone County have an opportunity to be a part of a learning experience that is sure to be a model for the state and nation. We are proud of this innovative project,” said Yearwood.

This unique learning environment was made possible through a generous donation by Vicki Russell and the late Hank Waters. The Nature School campus is located on the Waters-Russell Unit of Three Creeks Conservation Area in Boone County and has been utilized by Columbia Public Schools and MDC since 2020.

To learn more about the Boone County Nature School, visit Questions can be directed to MDC Education Supervisor Brian Flowers at 573-815-7901, ext. 2867, or Michelle Baumstark, Chief Communications Officer for Columbia Public Schools, at (573) 214-3960.