Shaver’s Creek to undergo major expansion, renovation to better serve community

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Shaver's Creek Environmental Center, which provides resources for Penn State and local communities, will undergo major expansion and renovation for the first time in more than 75 years.

Shaver's Creek lower classroom

Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center will undergo major improvements and new construction for the first time to help serve the current demand.

At Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, classroom space is often filled to capacity, stretching the limits of the more than 75-year-old facility that has never gone through a major renovation. For the first time, Shaver’s Creek will undergo major improvements and new construction to help serve the current demand.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth during the past decade and a half in the number of students and visitors who utilize the far-reaching resources at Shaver’s Creek,” said director Mark McLaughlin. “The expansion and renovation project is necessary to help provide outstanding services to the more than 60,000 people who rely on our expertise each year.”

The first component of the multi-phase project is projected to cost $4 million, funded through a combination of philanthropy and fiscal support from Penn State Outreach and Online Education. Shaver’s Creek upgrades — with an anticipated start date for the first phase slated for summer 2016 — will include:

  • Two additional classrooms with the flexibility to open into one larger classroom for more than 100 people
  • Enhanced visitor experience with main building renovation, including upgrades to the Discovery Room and bookstore
  • Administrative/staff office space addition for 25 full-time employees — previously spread throughout five buildings — as well as interns, volunteers and graduate assistants
  • Improvements to the raptor center and upper classroom (second phase)

The upgrades will help accommodate the more than 1,300 Penn State students — up from 275 in 2001 — as well as 50,000 non-credit program attendees and nearly 9,000 visitors who use Penn State’s outdoor education field lab and nature center during the year. For Penn State, Shaver’s Creek is home to more than 35 credit-bearing courses in six colleges and nine departments.

McLaughlin said the improvements will help the facility continue its mission of outreach and instruction.

“We’re building the future of environmental education and helping prepare the next generation to make informed decisions and choices,” said McLaughlin. “This project will enrich the educational experience with the natural world for all those who come to Shaver’s Creek.”

The original building at Shaver’s Creek, which was founded in 1976, was built in 1938 as a forestry lodge for group functions and warm-weather instruction. Shaver’s Creek provides several resources for Penn State students and the community, including the environmental and raptor centers, outdoor school and public festivals.

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Matt Caracappa
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