Good news from Rwanda, where the construction of our Ellen DeGeneres Campus restarted last month.
Once built, our new Ellen Campus will be the permanent headquarters of the Fossey Fund’s activities. The multi-acre, eco-friendly facility adjacent to the Volcanoes National Park will include laboratories, a computer lab and library, flexible office and meeting space, classrooms, an interactive educational exhibit and on-site residences for visiting students and scientists. Built with locally-sourced materials and supplies, the campus will embody the Fossey Fund’s mission to conserve and limit its impact on the environment, through rainwater reharvesting, green roofs, the planting of over 250,000 native plant species and a constructed wetland to treat wastewater and promote biodiversity.
Construction was temporarily halted in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even while the site was closed, we continued to move ahead with the project by, for example, developing the content and design of our public exhibit.
In early May, as Rwanda began reopening activities in parts of the country, we were able to work with our construction partners, MASS Design, to restart construction. Our strict health and safety protocols, which were initiated at the start of construction, now include social distancing, temperature checks, staggered entry, and daily health and safety briefings.
Currently we have a variety of trade crafts present on the site, including stone masons, steel workers and carpenters. One of the impact goals of building the campus is to promote gender equity, and we are pleased that 27% of our team members are female.
We’re working simultaneously on construction of our three main buildings: the Conservation Gallery, the Research Center and the Education Center. We’ve also started work on our student housing and plant nursery.
Check out this video to meet some of the team and see the progress we have made. Check back for more updates as our new Campus becomes a reality—we are excited to share our progress as we move forward.