WILTON — Woodcock Nature Center has always been about bringing people of all ages closer to nature. The opportunity to do that has grown substantially this year as the nature center reports “a huge increase” in visitors over the past several months as the pandemic has continued.

Thousands of residents have flocked to the nature center to enjoy its 150 acres that spans Wilton and Ridgefield with four miles of trails, a large pond, and outdoor aviary that is home to three birds of prey.

The nature center would like to amplify its educational mission by creating and installing new signs along the trails. To accomplish this, project organizers are asking the community to donate to a crowdfunding campaign or volunteer in the effort.

All community donations will be doubled by Sustainable CT’s Community Match Fund, which is an innovative funding resource for public, community-led sustainability projects.

If the campaign reaches its $2,000 goal by its fundraising deadline of Sept. 23, the project will receive a matching grant of $2,000 from Sustainable CT, an initiative of Eastern Connecticut State University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy.

For project details and to donate, visit https://bit.ly/2QCopfK.

Educators at Woodcock have plans for 15 new engaging and informative signs that will be professionally designed and printed. These signs will teach visitors about the diverse habitats they will encounter as they enjoy the preserve. Not only will the signage be colorful and easy to read but, in an effort to make the trails friendly for a wider audience, they will be printed in English and Spanish.

“Our mission to connect people of all ages to the natural world has never been more relevant as evidenced by the huge increase in visitors we’ve seen since the pandemic began,” said Woodcock’s Executive Director Lenore Herbst. “With more visitors than ever, we are eager to increase our opportunities for on-site, independent learning about local habitats and animals. We are grateful for this timely opportunity made possible by Sustainable CT.”

Each year, thousands of people visit Woodcock for walking, hiking, learning and spending time with loved ones. The preserve is a haven for aquatic life and a remarkable variety of birds. Along the trails are historic stone walls and stands of old maple, beech, oak and hickory trees. An Everglades-style boardwalk allows rare access through part of the rich, abundant wetlands nestled in the woods.

The grounds are open year-round from to dawn to dusk at no charge.

A recent grant from the Robert F. Schumann Foundation helped Woodcock to add signs near the aviaries, which has provided hands-on learning about their incredible birds. The new planned signs will expand this effort by broadening on-site educational information for visitors.

Sustainable CT is an initiative that inspires, supports, and recognizes sustainability action by towns and cities statewide. The Community Match Fund — supported by the Smart Seed Fund, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and the Connecticut Green Bank —provides a dollar-for-dollar match to donations raised from the community, doubling local investment in projects.

“Through the Community Match Fund, we aim to put residents at the forefront of creating positive, impactful change,” said Abe Hilding-Salorio, community outreach manager for Sustainable CT. “Match Fund projects are community led and community funded, demonstrating the power of people working together to make change in their communities.”