How and when did your organization begin?
The Discovery Center Collective was established in 2023, after merging two primary site locations: the Don Harrington Discovery Center and Wildcat Bluff Discovery Center (formerly Wildcat Bluff Nature Center).
Don Harrington Discovery Center
DHDC opened to the public in 1976, having been founded by Amarillo Independent School District as a learning resource to supplement formal education. We have provided the community with fun and engaging science experiences for almost 50 years, growing from a small gallery and planetarium to now include large interactive galleries for all ages, state-of-the-art technology, and an outdoor science park. DHDC emerged as an independent nonprofit science and technology center in 1984.
Meanwhile, Wildcat Bluff was founded in 1992 to provide nature education and inspire a love of the outdoors to families and visitors across the Panhandle. For over three decades, it has been a cornerstone for outdoor education and nature experiences in Amarillo and merged with DHDC in 2021.
What local need or issue does it address?
As the only organization of our size in the Texas Panhandle championing informal education through playful exploration, we bridge educational gaps stemming from screen dependency, inequitable access to resources, and low comprehension of basic literacy foundations.
At DHDC, our hands-on exhibits and interactive learning avenues ensure equitable access to vital educational tools, empowering individuals to chart their own learning journeys and envision careers across the field of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math).
At WBDC, we underscore the multifaceted benefits of outdoor education—enhancing mental well-being, physical health, and academic performance, especially in science. Notably, Amarillo and the encompassing Region 16 educational district stand out for their lack of environmental education offerings, a gap that Wildcat Bluff diligently fills by working with schools to offer an accessible space for outdoor learning and recreation.
Who do you serve?
Across both sites, we serve students, educators, and the half-a-million residents of the Texas Panhandle, along with our neighbors in the surrounding four-state regions of New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma. We have served an average of 140,000 guests per year since 2009, inspiring learners of all ages from cradle to career and beyond.
What specific needs does your organization have right now?
The Discovery Center Collective could not exist without the support of the community and our donors. Our operating budget includes about 40% from donations, grants, and other contributions. Very simply, we can’t do what we do without you. We were started by the community, and continue to be here for the community. We’re always looking for volunteers, board members, community cheerleaders, and both in-kind and monetary donations to keep innovating and creating new experiences for all. We are your Discovery Center Collective! You can contact Wendy Taylor at [email protected], or Kirk Daniels at [email protected] to make an investment or learn how you can be involved in making learning fun. We look forward to discovering together!