Paradise Creek’s New Education Center

Elizabeth River Project Opens Newly Expanded Environmental Education Center at Paradise Creek Nature Park
Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth River Project

On May 13, friends, community members, donors and partners gathered to celebrate the official opening of the river-friendly, newly expanded Fred W. Beasley River Academy at Paradise Creek Nature Park in Portsmouth. On this warm, bluebird spring day, award-winning Black birder, avian ecologist and PhD student Lauren Pharr led a sold out, pre-ceremony birding tour of the Park before kicking off the Elizabeth River Project’s Urban Nature Lecture Series with a presentation focused on promoting green space equity and inclusion.

The new facility sports a 50-seat lecture hall, an outdoor pavilion, and areas for expanded educational programs and youth conservation internships. Paradise Creek Nature Park is the first environmental education center located on restored wetland and is a beloved natural oasis located within a highly developed and largely underserved section of the city.

At the opening ceremony, in lieu of a traditional ribbon cutting, water was poured into a birdbath handcrafted by long-time park volunteer and retired wetlands scientist George Bangs, using a tree stump he found in the park. Toward the end of Pharr’s presentation, gasps were heard as all eyes turned to see a small bluebird touch down on the rim of the birdbath to take a sip—certainly an auspicious sign.

Learn more at

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth River Project
Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth River Project
Beth Hester
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