|The original Nature Center at the Airport in the Sky was funded in 1981 by a generous donation from the Offield Foundation to delight, entertain and most importantly educate visitors, many of who have seen the Island from the air, but never had a chance to explore it for a closer look.
The outdoor exhibit on the west side of the Airport terminal, is one of the first things visitors who fly to the Island see when walking off the tarmac – presenting them a first look at the issues facing the Conservancy in Island conservation.
Following a refurbishment in 2008, new, colorful and easy-to-read panels, provide guests with up-to-date insights on the Island and the forces, both natural and man-made, that threaten its delicate ecology.
Popular with visitors to the Nature Center is the Catalina history timeline featuring life-sized cutouts of the types of individuals who have inhabited the Island’s history from the original inhabitants, the Tongva from at least 6, 800 years ago; to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who discovered Catalina in 1542; to the cowboys, miners, and even a “bathing beauty” from the 1880’s when the Island first became a recreational haven for yachters and sports fishermen.
Another popular exhibit is the inspiring, multi-dimensional mural by artist Eve Templeton’s of the Island’s native fauna. Depicted are a family of Catalina quail, sharing the same underbrush as a rattlesnake and a field mouse. As a bald eagle soars above, a grasshopper suns himself and a frog gains a foothold on an oak. Another eagle watches the proceedings from a safe perch while a woodpecker sets to work on a dead tree.
Of course, there is the awe-inspiring 40-foot long, and 28-foot wide tile map of Catalina, completed in 1989. The map was financed, created and manufactured by Marinero Board Member Bob Hood. Artwork was provided by San Pedro artist Nancy Grossman.