After years of planning, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society unveiled plans for the 7-acre Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden that will be the largest and most exciting in the country.
Rory Meyers, a member of the Board at the Dallas Arboretum, and her family wanted to support the development of such an area of the Botanic Garden, knowing the impact it would have on children and their education, and have done so with a challenge grant of $15 million.
'Recognizing Rory Meyers' love of children, the Dallas Arboretum and her dedication to creating this experience for our community, the Arboretum has decided to honor this elegant lady and the life she has led with a permanent tribute. This garden will be appropriately named, The Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden.' stated Roger Gault, Chairman of the Board of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society.
Mrs. Meyers is a well known civic leader and community volunteer, who has been involved with the Arboretum Board for over ten years, serving on its Executive Committee, as the Chairman of the Education Standing Committee and on its Board of Distinguished Advisors. She has also served as a Past President and Director of The Parents Association of the Lamplighter School. Mrs. Meyers has additionally been active as a member of the Board of Directors of The Pregnancy Resource Council as well as a Director of Educational First Steps.
She has served as a docent at the Dallas Museum of Art, has been involved with Bible Study International and many other community organizations. She has been married to her husband Howard Meyers for thirty-five years. They have two sons, Craig and Kevin, both graduates of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Rory Meyers was recognized at a dinner announcing this gift and its importance with the Arboretum board and other civic leaders present. U.S. Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison, the honorary chair of the children's garden was among several speakers endorsing this effort, including Mayor Tom Leppert and Former DISD Superintendent Linus Wright.
'The project will feature more than 150 imaginative interactive exhibits giving children a myriad of opportunities to explore nature more closely. Children will be engaged in activities that connect them to nature and help them understand the importance of protecting our Earth's resources. These outdoor laboratories, which target youth in pre-school through sixth grade, will be situated along a captivating discovery-filled trail. This trail will be intersected by water features that integrate the garden and explain water properties, cycles and flow. Above it all will be the Texas Skywalk, a treetop walkway that will soar above a lush understory that explains the significance of habitats and the role of nature in our lives like no other place in the nation.' said Cecile Bonte, Chairman of the Children's Garden Capital Campaign.
'Great creativity has taken place within these gardens as well as new opportunities for enhanced children's science education,' she added. 'We have taken the knowledge gained and hired a premier design team that continues to inspire us all.'
Construction is expected to begin in early 2010 with the opening in the end of 2012.
Specific features of the garden include:
•The Discovery Center: A 5,000-square-foot architecturally "green" education center which will serve as the garden's focal point. The center will include laboratories and technology-enhanced work stations and play areas, encouraging children to work together to solve nature's puzzles.
•The Wild Wetland Walk: Man-made wetlands designed to teach life cycles, adaptations, biodiversity and water properties. A large and comprehensive exhibit, the wetlands will feature an activity island, a boardwalk through grass tunnels, stepping stones and floating bridges.
•Outdoor "Learning Rooms": Outdoor laboratories based on specific science topics such as ecosystems, animal and plant habitats, the inner workings of plants, Earth science - how weather, seasons, gravity and other forces affect life - and more.
•The Amazing Secret Garden: A fun and intricate maze with changeable paths to challenge all ages, leading to a secret garden and providing views of stunning waterfalls.
•The Incredible Edible Garden: A 22,000-square-foot area surrounded by interactive exhibits focused on the concept that our food comes from plants. This area will educate youth on how we cultivate many different plants, and the importance of plants to the economy and populations of the world.
Another area, the "Pure Energy" outdoor laboratory will imaginatively demonstrate how water, the sun and wind may be converted to energy, underscoring the nation's urgent focus on alternative energy sources. Additionally, the Patterns, Shapes and Structures Classroom will show the origination of math principles in nature.
More than 70,000 elementary students currently visit the Arboretum, and that figure is expected to dramatically increase with the opening of the garden. Leaders in public education say the timing for such a project could not be better.
Cecile Bonte, chairman of the children's garden capital campaign, said that in addition to the $15 million commitment from the Meyers family title sponsor, numerous other local individuals, foundations and corporations already have lent their support for the project; including parking facilities and endowment, the project will cost an estimated $43 million.