Stewards launched a campaign to raise funds to renovate the JVC in September 2015. The immediate goal was to raise enough to replace the roof and secure the back deck before the predicted arrival of El Niño in the winter of 2015/2016.
We are pleased to report that the first phase of this project was completed in November of 2015. The roof shingles were replaced and the back deck was secured so that most of it is now open for public viewing. We will begin second phase work in 2016. Special thanks to everyone who donated and made this work possible. We also appreciate State Park staff who made this project a priority and completed the work before the Christmas and New Years holidays.
Phase Two of this project will entail installing new doors, windows and ADA upgrades to the Visitor Center. We look forward to keeping you updated on cost projections with the goal of completing this phase in 2016.
The final phase of the project wiill be raising the building out of the flood zone.
Docent Michelle Gleed contributed these wonderful Visitor Stories.
A couple from the mid-west came into the visitor center one Saturday morning, asking about birds in the area. It was a calm day, just a bit of fog and we were standing at the wide windows looking out at the river. I mentioned some of the birds they might see, including bald eagles. The woman became animated, saying, "I've always wanted to see a bald eagle!" I let her know some of the "hot spots" for seeing them, then said, "And sometimes we see them here at the center too." Just then, a large bird started flying from the coast, up the river, towards us. I said, "This could be one right now." And it was! We all laughed at our good fortune and they left a donation in the Visitor Center donation box!
On a busy spring day, there were about a dozen people in the visitor center when a woman came in talking to a man and pointing at the interpretive signs on the wall. These signs tell the history and show photos of Penny Island and Jenner. When I approached these visitors to welcome them, the woman pointed to a child in a photo of the old Jenner school and said, "That's me!" She grew up in Jenner, went to the school and had dozens of wonderful stories to share about her life as a child. The other visitors and I asked her questions and we all got a welcome dose of living history!
The Sonoma Coast Visitor Center in Jenner (JVC) is situated on the Russian River estuary in the heart of Jenner. Previously called the Jenner Boathouse, it was operated by the Jenner Community Club for many years. In 1996, the community asked Stewards to take over the staffing of the JVC.
The Visitor Center is operated by State Parks docents and open most days of the week during the busy time of year. During the off-season, the JVC is only open 3-4 days a week. The center contains a wonderful Nature Store with an excellent assortment of educational sales items. There are interesting, interpretive displays showcasing local history, flora and fauna. In addition, you will find information about local lodging, restaurants and things to do in the area. Please call (707) 865-9757 to confirm hours of operation.
The Russian River estuary and Sonoma Coast State Park offer extraordinary opportunities to experience nature at its finest. It is not unusual to see harbor seals, river otters, an occasional sea lion or elephant seal swimming in the estuary. The bird life is prolific, with ospreys, Great Blue Herons, egrets, turkey vultures, pelicans, gulls, cormorants and many shorebirds. Popular activities in the area include kayaking, fishing, hiking, biking, surfing and tidepooling.
Groups of 10 or more can book private naturalist or docent-led tours of Sonoma Coast SP (reservations at least 2 weeks in advance are recommended). To do so, simply register online by filling out our Online Reservation Form for Groups. Fees vary and they help us continue to provide free docent-led environmental education programs for school groups through our School Group Education Programs. Click here to book School Group Reservations online.
For more information, contact Jazzy Dingler via email or phone at (707) 869-9177 x 1#.
Public Education Programs: