M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Continues Investment in Education with $250,000 Grant to Double Size of Sunriver Observatory

(Photo | Courtesy of Sunriver Observatory)

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust recently granted $250,000 to help expand the observatory in Sunriver, which is doubling its footprint next year to accommodate more visitors, even during COVID.

“One of the signs of an impactful community resource is a steady increase in demand and attendance. Over the decades, we have been pleased to see organizations like The Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory that consistently provide such an inspiring, engaging educational environment that audience and attendance demand outpaces their capacity,” said Steve Moore, executive director, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. “We are excited to play a small role in helping grow the capacity of the center so that more individuals, students and families have access to their valuable programming.

The grant to Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory reflects the Murdock Trust’s continued investment in the Pacific Northwest, having donated more than $1 billion to nonprofits that serve the Pacific Northwest since 1975.

The facility is undergoing a two-phased expansion. Funds from the Murdock Trust will support phase one, which includes doubling the size of the observatory to serve more visitors, including those who come on vacation or K-12 field trips. At night, visitors can observe stars, planets and other deep-sky objects. During the day, the observatory has equipment for observing the sun. In the future, the expansion will also allow the center to expand its program with universities, who will be able to manipulate telescopes remotely for research.

“We’re grateful to have support from the Murdock Trust to expand our observatory and create the space we serve for visitors, students and researchers,” said Abby Rowland, executive director of the Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory

The center expects to break ground on the observatory expansion project in spring 2021 and will reopen the observatory in early fall. The center is still raising funds for phase two of its project, which is to expand the education building and Discovery Center. The center overall was designed and built to serve 10,000 visitors annually, but sees about five times that. Despite COVID, 2020 was a record summer in terms of visitors coming to the center, who were accommodated with private group experiences to meet state requirements on distancing.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *