CARROLLTON, Ohio — Driving into Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum will never be the same.
A large two-story building now dominates the landscape at the bottom of the hill. And with that changed face, the future of the camp is energized with enhanced leadership and personal growth opportunities.
Since the ground-breaking ceremony in September 2015, a construction crew has been hard at work on the 9,500-square-foot Muskingum Discovery Center on the shore of Leesville Lake.
“This building is a game-changer,” said Todd Davis, Muskingum FFA Camp director. “Never before have we been able to seat 350 people on chairs in the same room.”
The Discovery Center will be home to a large multipurpose room with a stage to accommodate group activities, meetings, banquets and performances.
The other half of the building will be two stories — the lower being a welcome center, and the upper portion will serve as the Nature Center. The camp’s original Nature Center burned in 2011.
“Since the fire, it has been in our strategic plan to rebuild; the new building adds several elements of our strategic plan together,” Davis said. The Nature Center will include a live animal room, two labs and a dissection room.
Renewable resources. The Discovery Center is being built with renewable resource designs. The frame is made of timber and the building incorporates other natural building elements, including stone. There will be a geothermal HVAC installed, as well as R-Value windows, doors and insulation.
Many landscape and interior furnishings will also be made from recycled materials.
More than FFA
The camp currently serves four main customer groups; FFA, Nature’s Classroom, Project Reach and outside groups, such as bands, sports teams and faith-based groups.
Nature’s Classroom is a residential outdoor education program, serving elementary and middle schools. Participants learn about nature through hands-on activities.
Project Reach is an adventure education program. In it, participants are challenged physically and mentally to overcome different barriers.
Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum currently has seven full-time staff and more than 50 part-time or seasonal employees.
The goal with the new building is to better serve the 12,000 campers that attend annually, and bring in more opportunities for other groups, Davis said. The discovery center will increase opportunities to connect with more groups, even universities, he added, to enhance STEM education in the region.
Currently, no facility with this capacity and flexibility is available in Carroll County or the surrounding counties, he said.
“The space will really open up the opportunities to host more than one group on site at the same time without any mingling,” Davis said. “We will be able to provide housing, meeting space and dining facilities without mixing groups.”
The camp is still looking for additional funds to complete the project.
“FFA Camp Muskingum has been self-supporting over its history,” Davis said. “The discovery center project is the first time we have ever solicited for funds.”
The building is an estimated $1.85 million and the balance of the $2.5 million is for additional parking, widening the road and other elements to make the center accessible.
The construction is on target for a February completion, “if not by the end of the year,” said Davis, who is in his 21st year of directing the camp.
“Our board is always challenging the staff and working with us to be proactive instead of reactive with developing and enacting a strategic plan,” Davis said. “And this building is part of being proactive to the camp and community needs.”
Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum is about 2.5 miles southwest of Carrollton, in Carroll County’s Orange Township.
Discovery Center Building — Cost Breakdown
$1,850,000 — Timber frame, infrastructure, site work, electrical, mechanical and plumbing
$650,000 — Related project costs includes architectural fees and permits, kitchen and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, furnishings, demolition to increase parking areas, road widening, fundraising costs and contingency
Total project cost: $2.5 million
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