The Ozark Natural Science Center in Huntsville will suspend its residential environmental education program and its summer camp program in May because of financial concerns.
Interim executive director Jenny Harmon said despite loyal support of many throughout the years program expenses have continued to exceed revenues and donations received by the 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
This marks the center’s 21st year of operations. More than 45,000 students from around the region have participated in the camp’s science programs over the past two decades. Harmon said the board took several months to reach the decision and schools are being notified this week about the camp closure.
The camp has been an overnight nature destination for thousands of fifth graders over the years, but the last class will close out the program at the end of this school year. Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club have been an avid supporter of the project over the years with grants and volunteers.
According to the nonprofit’s website, the center received a grant of $100,000 in April 2011 from the Walmart Foundation and held an annual fundraising gala “Call of the Wild” each spring.
The camp employs a staff of 12 on a full-time basis as well as several part-time positions.
The center’s campus encompasses 500 acres of Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission land in the Bear Hollow Natural Area, about three miles east of Arkansas 23 between Eureka Springs and Huntsville.