New outdoor Four Corners School to begin construction

Discover Center will be north of Monticello, Utah

The Four Corners School of Outdoor Education is building a new facility north of Monticello, Utah. Construction on the Canyon Country Discovery Center will begin this spring. Enlargephoto

Artist rendering

The Four Corners School of Outdoor Education is building a new facility north of Monticello, Utah. Construction on the Canyon Country Discovery Center will begin this spring.

The Four Corners School of Outdoor Education has announced that construction will begin this spring on its new campus, the Canyon Country Discovery Center, just north of Monticello, Utah.

The Discovery Center will feature a 22,000 square-foot facility on 48 acres, including an exhibit hall with hands-on interactive learning stations, a night sky observatory, Discovery Theatre, administrative offices, and 5 miles of walking/ski trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, and more.

The Discovery Center will also serve as a community resource with a library and field laboratory, classrooms, and meeting spaces large enough to accommodate community meetings and conferences of up to 150 people. Visitor areas feature hands-on learning stations that will provide insight into the Canyon Country of the Colorado Plateau. Areas of emphasis include natural history, human history, land use and energy, water resources, and astronomy and weather.

“There is a tremendous amount of momentum right now throughout Utah for expanding our recreational infrastructure in order to significantly grow tourism and the recreation economies in rural communities,” said Brad Peterson, Director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation.

“The Four Corners School supports the state’s outdoor recreation vision and objectives by creating a unique destination, that highlights the recreational opportunities, culture, history and beauty of the Canyon Country.”

Four Corners School has led a multiyear effort to build the Discovery Center. While not all funds have been raised, they are close. The School will hire six new staff members this year and eight more in 2015. Substantial investments in the school have come from a variety of public and private sources.

So far $8.2 million has been raised so far for the new school. Funding includes $1.59 million from the Economic Development Administration as well as matching funds from several generous private donors.

“We are in awe of the generosity of the private donors and the support of government entities,” said Steve Munsell, Four Corners School Board chair. “The school is a significant investment in the future of Monticello and the canyon country of the Colorado Plateau.”

Major private donors include Jennifer Speers, Hansjoerg Wyss, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, David Bonderman, the Janet Quinney Lawson Foundation, Utah Cares Foundation, Val A. Browning Foundation, and Four Corners School Board members.

The Discovery Center is expected to help jump-start economic development in Monticello, Utah. Monticello is located at the center of the Colorado Plateau that includes parts of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. It is an area of diverse cultures, vibrant businesses, and stunning natural resources. More than two million visitors from all over the world pass through Monticello each year. The Discovery Center will give them a place to stop, learn, and utilize local businesses, promoters say. The Discovery Center will also bring new jobs to the area, and increase revenue to motels, gas stations, restaurants, construction workers, gift shops, and outfitters.

“I feel that this project has the potential to have a huge positive impact on the local economy,” said Tim Young, the new mayor of Monticello. “I am excited to have such a unique facility here. This facility is one more piece of the larger puzzle that makes Monticello a truly great place to both live and visit.”

The investment from the Economic Development Administration was a big piece in reaching the campaign goal. “This investment is an example of our commitment to creating jobs and promoting our nation’s economic competitiveness,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “This grant will support the growth of the tourism cluster in the region, and create or save approximately 33 jobs, in addition to leveraging millions of dollars in private investment.”

Lisa Eccles, President & COO of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, extended congratulations to Four Corners School for its progress in “bringing the dreams for this project to life.” She added, “We are pleased to support this exciting project, knowing it will serve not only as an important educational center, but also will attract thousands of new visitors and generate economic benefits for the citizens of the Monticello area.”

The facility itself will be LEED certified, featuring a high level of sustainable building and construction elements. Construction will begin in June 2014, and the Discovery Center will open in summer 2015. Utility infrastructure, highway turn lanes, an observatory, yurt, walking trails and five picnic pavilions were completed in 2013.

The Discovery Center is a public-private partnership between the City of Monticello’s Economic Development Committee and the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education, based in Monticello, Utah since 1984. The mission of Four Corners School is to create lifelong learning experiences about the Colorado Plateau region for people of all ages and backgrounds through education, service, adventure, and conservation programs.