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Friends of the Arboretum at Starin Park and the City of Whitewater today announced that a grant from Generac Power Systems, a leading designer and manufacturer of energy technology solutions and other power products with a manufacturing facility in Whitewater that employs more than 1,000 people, will fund the creation of the Generac Education Center. The center, which will be located at the south end of Starin Park, will be a focal point of the Arboretum, hosting outdoor classroom activities while serving as a welcome center to the trails and greenery.
The Arboretum at Starin Park (AASP) is a community initiative to restore the beauty, health and diversity of the woodlands in the park, enhancing its role as a vital natural sanctuary. Educational programs at AASP aim to connect youth to nature and teach the fundamentals of stewardship and ecology. AASP expects to host their first school groups in spring 2023, featuring Arboretum-specific curriculum and hands-on science activities.
“Starin Park has lost a considerable number of mature trees over the years,” according to Whitewater Urban Forestry Commission Chair Sherry Stanek. "This is an effort not only to draw attention to the need to maintain the city's important inventory of life restoring urban trees but to also emphasize native plants and establish a learning experience for future generations," said Stanek. "Generac's stepping forward to provide the funds to build an Education Center, along with contributions from other private and corporate citizens, establishes the foundation for an important community asset that not every community is able to provide."
“Starin Park has so much to offer our community and with this generous donation from Generac, it creates another element to the park for the community to enjoy.” said Eric Boettcher, Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Whitewater. “It’s wonderful to see what a partnership between the Whitewater Urban Forestry Commission, Generac and the City of Whitewater is able to create this new amenity to the park.”
Construction of the Generac Education Center will begin in September. Volunteers and some city staff will construct the 14-foot by 18-foot pavilion, which is expected to be completed in October. Generac’s contribution will cover the cost of materials for the structure, helping AASP meet the matching requirements of a DNR grant supporting the development of the Arboretum.
“Investing in education and sustainability is a priority for us and The Arboretum is an inspiring environmental project in Whitewater,” said Hasan Celik, senior director of operations at the Generac Whitewater facility. “As one of the leading employers in Whitewater, we are pleased to help make this available to our community and look forward to seeing the outdoor classroom come to life.”
Three micro-climate interpretive areas are being developed during AASP’s first year of operation: The Natural Play Area, Food Forest and Shelter Circle (Maple, Beech Basswood) Forest, with other areas to be developed in subsequent years. Earlier this year, more than 190 native trees and shrubs were delivered to the City of Whitewater to be planted in the Arboretum, expanding the urban forest canopy.
AASP is seeking additional contributions, members and volunteers to maintain the facility and new plantings. Learn more at www.arbatstarin.org or email EntAtStarinArb@gmail.com.
About the Arboretum at Starin Park
The Arboretum At Starin Park is dedicated to helping create a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world.
About the City of Whitewater
The City of Whitewater provides efficient and high-quality services which support living, learning, playing and working in an exceptional community. Visit www.whitewater - wi.gov for community information and updates.
Note: The rendering of the Generac Education Center is representative of the pavilion that is in the final stages of design.