HUNTINGTON — A ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony took place at Heritage Farm Museum & Village last week to showcase additions at the farm before it settles into its fall hours.
Thursday’s event showcased the new Nature Center and Treehouse Trek at Heritage Farm, which is located at 3300 Harvey Road in Huntington.
“The Nature Center theme is ‘An Appalachian Backyard Experience,’” Wildlife Director Rebekah Perry Franks said in a news release. “When you walk into the building, you feel a sense of home … but not just your home; it is also home for the amazing wildlife of Appalachia. We can’t wait to share these cool critters with the public and get people excited about what lives just outside their own doors. Thank you to all who have helped support the creation of the Nature Center — we could not have done it without you.”
The event was hosted by the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“Heritage Farm Museum & Village is a great tourism destination, not only for visitors from outside our region, but also for those of us who live nearby,” Bill Bissett, president and CEO of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, said in the release. “When it comes to hands-on learning, Heritage Farm gives visitors a great look into life in the past, while also connecting us to present-day Appalachia. We’re lucky to have this wonderful growing attraction in our backyard, and thank everyone involved for their hard work and dedication.”
The new Nature Center is designed to be a unique “living classroom” experience where visitors are able to learn about the wildlife of Appalachia while actually being surrounded by live animals native to the area.
“We believe that conservation education should first be about getting people to care about the local wildlife and their habitats through personal encounters, and then informing them of how they are impacting those things with their actions every day,” Perry Franks added.
The new Treehouse Trek takes visitors to new heights via a 750-foot series of canopy bridges that sends them 60 feet high into the forest.
“Visitors will be eye level with squirrels traversing from tree to tree, and birds gathering seeds and insects for food, and other fascinating animal behaviors that you normally would miss if you were passively wandering at ground level,” according to Perry Franks. “Offshoots of the bridges will allow participants to exercise like the native wildlife in unique ways, utilizing ropes and planks to challenge guests to balance like a chipmunk, climb like a raccoon, jump like a squirrel, perch like a bird and hang like an opossum.”
At the pinnacle of this trek there is a 24-foot by 32-foot treehouse with views of the Appalachian woodlands and its wildlife. Perry Franks said this space can also function as a classroom, a presentation station and more.
“For those who do not wish to climb 60 feet into the sky, there will still be a mile and a half ground-level footpath trail system to walk and enjoy nature’s wonders,” she said.
While the farm has been operating under its summertime hours since early July, it will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday beginning Saturday, Sept. 5. Those hours will be in effect for September and October.
In addition, there will be extra educational programming at the farm on Wednesdays.
For more information about Heritage Farm, visit https://heritagefarmmuseum.com.