FAIRHOPE – Work will start in November to make part of the Fairhope K-1 center into a facility for teaching science and other subjects to local students.
The Fairhope Education Enrichment Foundation will hold an event Nov. 4 to kick off construction of improvements at the site, Rhydonna Mosley, FEEF capital campaign coordinator, said. The event will be at 9 a.m. in front the K-1 Center office site at the intersection of St. James Avenue and South Church Street.
The foundation signed a 25-year lease with the city of Fairhope in October for a portion of the site that includes the Pelican’s Nest marine science center and several other buildings on the north side of the property. FEEF plans to expand Pelican’s Nest programs and to make the site a center for teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, known as STEAM, programs, Davis Brock, FEEF board member, said.
“We believe STEAM education is the most vital component to success for our students,” Brock said.
Rhydonna Mosley, FEEF capital campaign coordinator, said supporters want to better prepare Eastern Shore children for the challenges of the future.
“We want our children, when they graduate, to be able to go out into the workforce and problem solve,” she said.
Plans include renovating and expanding the Pelican’s Nest, a science center for elementary school students. Brock said FEEF plans to add programs for older students with additions such as outdoor classrooms and other facilities.
The expanded facility will also include wetlands, a turtle habitat, butterfly garden, a pollinator habitat, stormwater gardens and other additions.
Plans also include adding more restrooms and increasing storage space. In the Pelican’s Nest office where she and Brock were being interviewed, Mosley pointed to a stack of waterproof boots and other equipment that filled much of the space.
“We don’t have anywhere else to put it,” she said. “We’ve got to have more storage space.”
Brock said FEEF members have been planning the expansion for at least six years. They first began discussions with the Baldwin County Board of Education. Since Fairhope bought the K-1 Center in 2019, FEEF members have been working with the city to lease the site and begin work.
The lease does not include the main buildings of the center on the south side of the campus. City officials are working to decide what to do with that facility.
Brock said FEEF was established 25 years ago by residents who wanted to improve education in Fairhope schools. The foundation provides $120,000 a year for education with $20,000 going to each of the five schools in the Fairhope High feeder pattern and $20,000 for teacher grants.
The foundation has also operated the Pelican’s Nest since the 1990s.
The Fairhope City Council voted Oct. 11 to lease the property to FEEF for 25 years at $1 a year.