Nature Center offers exhibits, hiking, and more

Aug 21st, 2009 | By | Category: Community Features, Features

By Zach Becker

chipmunk

Photo by Zach Becker. A chipmunk hides in the brush along the trail at the Springfield Nature Center.

For hikers and lovers of the outdoors, the Springfield Conservation and Nature Center can provide a welcome respite from the busy collegiate lifestyle.

With a main central building featuring ever-changing exhibits on wildlife, as well as three miles worth of outdoor wooded hiking trails, volunteers at this free-of-charge Springfield attraction hope to expose people of all ages to the beauty of the Ozarks.

“It’s a really great place to hike,” said Kim Banner, who works as a Naturalist at the Nature Center providing education programs. “Some of (the trails) are a little bit more challenging, a little bit hilly. You see a lot of nature first hand: lots of deer, lots of turkey, reptiles, lizards, turtles, snakes; all kinds of different things.”

Hiking is open to the public year round. However, newcomers to the area may wish to join the Nature Center’s hiking club.

A volunteer naturalist leads this club on hikes through different conservation areas in Missouri’s southwest region.

“If they like hiking and they don’t know where to go and they don’t have a person to hike with, that’s really a good thing for them to do,” Banner said.

The Nature Center hosts a multitude of exhibits and special events each month, exploring everything from insects and venomous snakes to hunter safety and snorkeling.

Located in southeast Springfield, the Springfield Conservation Nature Center is located just west of US-65 off the James River Freeway (US-60). The area is open daily 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The main building is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to sign up for its programs, contact the Nature Center at (417) 888-4237 or go to www.mdc.mo.gov/2360.

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