The Grange Insurance Audubon Center is trying to put youngsters in touch with nature, even when it seems out of reach.

The facility, at 505 W. Whittier St. west of the Brewery District in south Columbus, is working to raise $10,000 through Aug. 11 that would be used to recast a classroom as a hands-on learning center for children ages 12 and younger.

“It’s not hands-on enough (now),” she said. “It’s not enough interactive play.”

It essentially would be an interactive play center, complete with tree murals, steps leading to windows so children could look outside at native gardens, animal footprints leading to the room, plus natural artifacts, such as bird wings, turtle shells and dried-insect displays.

There’s an outdoor component, too, Tabata said.

“When we move to the outside we will be providing materials to basically create natural habitats,” she said.

The money is being raised through the Columbus Foundation’s Better Together program, a crowd-founding platform for nonprofit organizations. Donations can be provided at

“We’re hoping to get moving on it in September and have it done by fall,” she said.

There’s much to be gained by the modest improvements, said Allison Clark, education manager for the center.

“Studies show that exposure to natural environments improves children’s cognitive development by improving their awareness, reasoning and observational skills,” Clark said. “The updates we have planned will significantly improve the connections children make from the natural world into the classroom.”