Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
A woman and children feed ducks at Wheeler Historic Farm in Murray on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018. Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation broke ground Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, for a new $2.6 million Outdoor Education Center at the farm.

MURRAY — Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation broke ground Wednesday for a new Outdoor Education Center at Wheeler Historic Farm, 6351 S. 900 East.

The 6,315-square-foot facility will be staffed and operated jointly by Salt Lake County and Utah State University Extension to connect more children and adults to nature and provide increased access to educational opportunities.

“As Salt Lake County continues to become more urbanized, this new Outdoor Education Center will allow people to unplug, learn and experience the wonder of nature,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said in a statement. “This is a great addition to the farm, and I am confident this will have a positive impact on thousands of Salt Lake County residents for decades to come.”

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The building will have a teaching space where programming will include immersive nature walks, learning opportunities about current and historic farming practices, horticulture, livestock management, watershed science and urban forestry.

According to the county, the farm hosts approximately 450,000 visitors a year, and Utah State University Extension hosts hundreds of youth and adults in its agriculture and food education classes at the farm. The new center will allow the partnership to greatly expand programs and host thousands more interested participants.

The $2.6 million project is funded through the 2016 Parks and Recreation Bond and through charitable donations. It’s anticipated the building will be completed this fall.