Help Support Salato and Wildlife Conservation in Kentucky

With your help, we can make a difference in Kentucky

Did you know...? The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources manages all wildlife statewide without the use of General Tax Fund dollars. Wildlife conservation in Kentucky is paid for by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and boater registrations.

Did you know...? 95% of the land in Kentucky is privately owned. In order for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources to be effective, we need your help!

The Salato Wildlife Education Center seeks to educate the public about Kentucky's native wildlife, the resources they need to thrive, and the role played by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources in their management and conservation. See what's in store for our future and find out how you can help below!

Upcoming Projects in Need of Funding

The Salato Center is always growing and we have big plans for our future... but we can't do it without you! To prevent the Department from diverting needed license dollars away from the important work of managing and conserving Kentucky's wildlife resources, we rely upon partnerships and gifts from major corporations to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation to fund our exhibits. These gifts usually come from people who understand the importance of conservation education to the long term health of wildlife and habitats accross the state. A list of projects, exhibits, and programs at Salato that need funding or sponsorship is below. To learn more about each, just click on the project name!

Major Projects

  • Western Kentucky Wetlands Diorama

    Project Description: Both indoors and out, the Salato Center should take visitors on a tour through the unique regional ecosystems found in East, Central, and West Kentucky. The Eastern Kentucky Forest Exhibit was built in 1995. We still need to build Central and West Kentucky to complete the indoors!

    The Western Kentucky Wetland Diorama will represent a typical wetland in fall. Various species will be engaged in normal activities, such as denning, hunting, foraging, and migrating. A cutaway of the water will allow a view of fish, turtles, muskrats, amphibians, and aquatic plants. Endangered and threatened species, such as bald eagles and the Copperbelly water snake will be highlighted, as will the waterfowl that use wetlands during the fall migration. Other flora and fauna will inhabit the woods and water to call attention to the diversity of wetlands as habitat. An interpretive rail in front of the exhibit will include interactive aspects, videos, computer programs, and signage related to the region's wetland resources.

    Importance: Western Kentucky is home to a number of unique wetlands, including richly diverse sloughs (pronounced "slews") and cypress swamps. These wetlands help filter toxins out of our environment, buffer the damaging effects of flooding, and provide food, water, and shelter to an extensive range of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, including bald eagles, river otters, and the Copperbelly water snake. During spring and fall, they offer temporary "rest stops" for migratory waterfowl. For wildlife, wetlands are the most diverse habitat type in the state. For humans, they provide excellent recreational opportunities for hunting, fishing, and nature observation. Wetlands are the most rapidly disappearing habitat type on Earth, and are in the most need of protection. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources manages existing wetlands and creates new ones in the region to encourage wildlife diversity, bolster fisheries, and help protect and restore these vital native ecosystems.

    Estimated Cost: $200,000 ($30,000 of the needed funds have already been raised. The Wildlife Commission matches all donations to the Foundation on a dollar-for-dollar basis)

  • Central Kentucky Grasslands Diorama


  • Kentucky Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Neotropical Bird Migration Globe


  • Salato Native Plant Program Working Greenhouse Exhibit

    On November 28th, 2005, heavy winds caused irreparable damage to one of the two greenhouses utilized by the Native Plant Program. This has severely impacted the program. Rather than spend thousands of dollars renovating an already old facility, we have decided to move forward immediately on already existing plans for the new Salato Native Plant Greenhouse Exhibit, to be located near the Elk and Bison exhibits at the Salato Center.

    Project Description
    Because of the critical importance of native plants as a wildlife resource, the focus of this project is to encourage a greater public understanding of native plants and their role in habitat by opening the facility to public viewing as a working exhibit on the grounds of the Salato Center. As a part of the overall visit, the public will be encouraged to wander through the greenhouse itself. The greenhouse doors will open onto an outdoor workspace featuring raised beds for mature plants, shrubs, and trees, exhibition mulching bins, and habitat gardens representative of East, Central, and West Kentucky physiographic regions. Runoff from irrigation will flow into a constructed lagoon/settling pond planted with native aquatic plants and planned with natural filtration and detoxification in mind. Interpretation will provide explanations of the impact of runoff and the importance of mulching to the environment.

    The new facility will create a modern, safe workspace for the Native Plant Program staff and volunteers. The two greenhouses in which the Native Plant Program currently operates are old and in serious disrepair. In practical terms, a new facility is simply a must.

    Greenhouse: 84' x 36' clear, polycarbonate greenhouse with 12' gutter height will be subdivided into two areas to allow for standard greenhouse operation as well as a seed bedding area. A clear, polycarbonate wall will provide a controlled environment for germination, while allowing for viewing by visitors. Sliding, polycarbonate doors will provide added control of the inner environment, allowing a more comfortable work/viewing area during summer months. Fans and heating (possibly geothermal) will control the environment when the doors are closed. An overhead, automatic irrigation system will reduce staff labor. Expandable, metal frame work benches will allow for greater efficiency in access and organization.

    Potting Shed/Classroom: 24' x 36' area will allow off-exhibit workspace for staff and volunteers, as well as needed classroom space for for public programs, workshops, and seminars about native plants. Windows will allow visitors to view the work going on inside, while not disrupting it.

    Office/Storage Area: 24' x 36' off-exhibit area will provide office space for the Native Plant Coordinator and volunteers, as well as storage area for seeds, tools, and other equipment. This will be constructed using fieldstone to tie it in with the architectural design of the Salato Center itself.

    Habitat loss is the single most serious problem facing Kentucky Wildlife today. Less than 5% of Kentucky is publicly owned and managed for wildlife. As such, it is imperative that private landowners understand the habitat needs of native wildlife and manage their property with this in mind. The Salato Native Plant Program was created in 1995 to teach the public how Kentucky's native plants provide important habitat for bugs, birds, animals - and people.

    Currently operated out of two "elderly" greenhouses at the Game Farm entrance, the Native Plant Program supplies the plants, trees, and shrubs used in the outdoor exhibits at the Salato Center, as well as the numerous habitat gardens at Salato and on the grounds of the Game Farm. Likewise, it supplies plants for qualifying schools to assist in the development of Outdoor Classrooms to encourage children to learn about nature in a hands-on, interactive environment.

    Because of its distance from the Salato Center, much of the public never sees the greenhouses and a great opportunity for education is missed. Our hope is that by relocating the facility to the grounds of the Salato Center, we can provide greater access to the Native Plant Program, thereby increasing its effectiveness as an educational resource for the public.

    Estimated Cost

Additions and Renovations

  • Discovery Room
  • Deer/Turkey viewing platform
  • Interpretive Signage for Outdoor Exhibits
  • Restoration Exhibit Completion


Exhibits in Need of Sponsorship

  • Black Bears
  • Cove Forest
  • Eastern Deciduous Forest
  • Bluegrass Prairie

Events and Programs

  • Halloween Walk With the Animals
  • Salato Volunteer Program

Simple Ways That You Can Help

Simple Ways That You Can Help
Whether you have lots to give or little to spare, you can help support the Salato Wildlife Education Center and wildlife conservation in Kentucky.

Buy a hunting or fishing license: Whether you only take your kids fishing a few times a year or are an avid deer or turkey hunter, the purchase of a license is the best way to support wildlife conservation in Kentucky. Thanks to matching Federal funds for every license sold, 86% of the cost of KDFWR programs is covered without the need to tap the General Tax Fund. This money is used to restore habitat, purchase land for conservation, conserve endangered and threatened species, enforce wildlife regulations, help educate the public, and much more. Licenses range in price from $5 to $95 for Kentucky residents. To support the KDFWR through the purchase of a license, click here

Subscribe to Kentucky Afield Magazine: Kentucky Afield is the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Each issue features intelligent writing, beautiful photography, the award-winning paintings of artist Rick Hill, and a wealth of information about wildlife, habitat, hunting, fishing, boating, and more. A great gift for any outdoor enthusiast or hobbyist. A one year subscription costs just $10 and includes a bonus calendar full of fascinating information from the opening of Goose Season to the timing of woodcock courtship flights. You can also save by purchasing a two-year subscription for just $18. Learn about the wildlife that calls Kentucky home and the best places to go to see them. For more information, click here.

Donate to the The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation: The "Foundation" is a private, 501c3 charitable organization that raises funds specifically for exhibits and programs at the Salato Center, the KDFWR Conservation Camps, and the purchase of land for wildlife. Donations are tax-deductible and may be designated to a particular project. Simply include a letter with your check to let us know what specific project you want to support. Donations that are not designated may be used on any project or program, as the need arises. To learn more about the Foundation, click here.

Drop some money in the donation box! Teach kids the importance of giving and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Look for the hungry black bear holding a bourbon barrel! Before your trip to Salato, plan the amount you'd like to give, then let the kids slide the money in the box and tell them that by doing so, they have helped support wildlife. All donations go to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation (above) and support the Salato Wildlife Education Center directly. Checks and money orders should be made out to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Current Sponsors

Contact Laurie Davison if you are interested in learning more!