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View of the overgrown Gallop Orchard at the Coogan Farm Nature and Heritage Center in Mystic in 2019. Sun file photo

MYSTIC — The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center has received a grant from the Dime Bank Foundation for data and communications equipment for in-person, online and outside environmental education programs.

The $2,910 grant will help the nature center ensure seamless programming in classroom, hybrid and remote applications.

Since last March, due to coronavirus restrictions, the nature center, which provides educational programming year-round to ages birth to adult, pivoted to fully online programming through Facebook Live, Zoom and YouTube. Since some restrictions were loosened in the summer, the center reintroduced in-person education, including nine weeks of nature camp for children.

For the fall and moving forward, the center expects to run a hybrid of programming, combining online with in-person when possible. The center works closely with many school districts in southeastern Connecticut to provide environmental education.

The Dime Bank grant will provide the center with equipment, including a tablet, laptop, mobile stabilizer, microphone package and routers to improve indoor internet connectivity.

“Our primary goal is to utilize better quality equipment to help us meet the expanding needs of distance learning and provide excellent content for the schools with which we work,” said Kim Hargrave, director of education. “Having adapted quickly to changing circumstances, we strive to stay ahead of the curve, anticipating the needs and requirements of the coming school year.”

One plus that arose from all the online programming the nature center created since March is that it expanded its audience. Thousands of viewers from across the country and around the world clicked on Facebook Live and YouTube programs on topics ranging from owls to newts to beavers.

“Our secondary goal is expanding a new revenue stream for DPNC through distance-learning opportunities with organizations within and outside of our immediate community,” said Davnet Conway, executive director. “The new technology will combine nicely with a new Smartboard and flip chart acquired as a part of the grant from the Lord Foundation for the newly renovated educational gathering space in the Avery Farmhouse at Coogan Farm.”

— Sun staff

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