Newport, Oregon—The Oregon Coast Aquarium plans to build a new forestry-themed children’s nature playspace thanks to a generous one million dollar pledge from Starker Forests, Inc.
The Aquarium was built on a mill site in Yaquina Bay, and so the nature playspace will pay homage to its historic origins in the timber industry. Climbing features, nature-play components and an outdoor amphitheater will engage children with nature and educate them on Oregon’s sustainable forestry industry.
“We are so grateful to Starker Forests for their incredible gift,” said Carrie Lewis, President/CEO of the Oregon Coast Aquarium. “The Starker family has always been an important part of our history—and this legacy gift will impact children and families for years to come.”
The Starker family has managed an expanse of western Oregon forestland under Starker Forests, Inc. for five generations. Longtime supporters of the Aquarium, their involvement first began with hosting planning meetings for the original Aquarium founders in the 1990s. It wasn’t long until Betty Starker—and later her son, Barte Starker—were asked to join the Aquarium’s board.
“My mother [Betty Starker Cameron] first got involved with the Aquarium because she saw the parallels between managed forests and a sustainably managed ocean,” stated Bond Starker, current Chairman of the Board and former President/CEO of Starker Forests, Inc. “My family has always supported conservation education. A better understanding of natural systems is better for society. Industries, whether fish or timber, depend on natural cycles.”
The new forestry-themed nature playspace will contribute an integral story to the Aquarium’s interpretive narrative that guides guests from Oregon’s coastal ecosystems to the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Thanks to the support of Starker Forests, Inc. and other donors, the Aquarium plans to begin construction on the playspace in 2020.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium creates unique and engaging experiences that connect you to the Oregon Coast and inspire ocean conservation. An accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums institution, this 501(c)3 non-profit organization is ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. Visit us at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, OR. www.aquarium.org, 541-867-3474. Follow us on Facebook.com/OregonCoastAquarium for the latest updates.