Neither rain nor sleet, hail or snow could keep an estimated crowd of 75 from turning out for an open house and dedication of the new, 2,400-square-foot Forestry and Natural Resources Outreach Center at the Hopkins Demonstration Forest in Beavercreek earlier this month.
“It was great to see the crowd and the enthusiasm,” said Ken Everett, executive director of Forests Forever, Inc., the nonprofit that owns and manages the Hopkins Forest located five miles southeast of Oregon City. “We are very excited to be opening the Center.”
Hopkins was established more than 30 years ago as a model for sustainable and actively managed forestland in the Pacific Northwest. Thousands of youth, adults, and the public come to Hopkins every year to learn, do service projects, and enjoy the property.
Among those attending the April 2 open house were Forests Forever board members, volunteers who helped construct the new building, and many of the financial donors for the project.
The event shared the story of the building and its vison including the background of the two men who designed the structure. Mark Schmidt, a well-known builder from Molalla, developed the initial design for the building, but died in 2017 when the project was only in the very early stages of development.
Daryl Sieker, an architect in West Linn, took over the project, worked with Mark’s design concepts, refined his work, and did all of the engineering specifications needed for permitting.
The Outreach Center was Daryl’s last project before losing his battle with cancer in 2021. Mark’s wife, Diana, and Daryl’s wife Cherie, we both present for the Dedication.
“We were blessed to have both Mark and Daryl involved in this project,” said Everett. “They both loved working with wood in their Craftsman-style designs, the beauty of our Northwest forests, and the sustainability of natural wood products. The Outreach Center is a tribute to their work. I’m really glad we could make this project happen.”
Mike Bondi, Lake Oswego, co-founder of Forests Forever along with Everett, has been the fundraiser for the $500,000 project. He thanked the more than 50 private individuals, businesses and organizations who have already contributed to the project.
The largest donation came from RSG Forest Products, based in Kalama, Washington, with a mill in Molalla. Rob Sanders, RSG President, donated a major gift to the project in 2021 and was the impetus to the FFI Board of Directors to launch the project and believe they could raise the needed monies to self-fund the building.
“Rob’s gift was absolutely huge,” Bondi said. “Rob has been a wonderful supporter of Forests Forever for the past 20 years.”
Other forest product companies have joined the fundraising effort, too, including Hampton Lumber, Weyerhaeuser, Port Blakely, Freres Lumber, Pacific Fibre, and Starker Forests.
Woodland owners have been key contributors, as well, including the Garvin Family in Milwaukie, who honored their family’s patriarch, Walt, with a special naming in the building.
Bondi reported that fundraising is now at about 90% of its goal.
“We are pushing on and hope to reach our goal in the next several months now that the Outreach Center is ready to occupy,” Bondi said. “We still have to complete landscaping for the building and will be adding a stone patio area and carport—plus a few other final touches.”
Forests Forever recently published its 2022 Annual Report, which is available online at demonstrationforest.org.
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