Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center: A Great Place for Free Indoor and Outdoor Fun

The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center.
The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center.

A bee exhibit, backpacks filled with nature-related items, fishing poles and camping exhibits may sound like an interesting assortment, but at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, these are just a few things for a budding naturist to discover.

The Nature Center is filled with many free activities that children and adults can enjoy and walk away knowing that they have learned something new.

One interesting activity at the Nature Center are the Discover Nature Backpacks. Six different types of backpacks are available for checkout to use along the nearby trails to help discover different animals, insects, pond life and animal tracks. The backpacks contain different items like nets, bug boxes, binoculars and nature journals.

A father and son looking at one of the Nature Center's exhibits.
A father and son looking at one of the Nature Center’s exhibits.

Tours are provided for schoolchildren at the Nature Center, along with different program guides for teachers to choose from. They also work with local 4-H Programs and travel to schools in surrounding areas with different materials to teach children about wildlife.

“Everything has to do with fish, forest and wildlife in the state of Missouri,” said Nature Center Director Sara Turner. “Our Nature Center is different from other nature centers in the state because ours focuses more on outdoor skills and connecting people with the land.”

Cape Girardeau’s location is the newest nature center in the state, according to Turner. “They [the Department of Conservation] wanted to try something different, since the other nature centers are in metropolitan areas.”

One of the Nature Center's exhibits.
One of the Nature Center’s exhibits.

The Nature Center also provides the “Discovery Trunks Loan Program,” which is a collection of materials for teachers and youth leaders. The trunks contain activities for ages from early childhood to the secondary level, and they can be checked out for no fee for two weeks. Many of the activities also correlate with the Show-Me Standards and Grade Level Expectations, which should be helpful for many teachers. The topics of the trunks vary, and include subjects like wetlands and insects.

The Nature Center also provides a newsletter, the Tupelo Times, that lists all events during their upcoming season, which is currently running from June through August.

Volunteer opportunities are available at the Nature Center. According to Turner, many Nature Center volunteers have had a background in education, but that is not always the case.

For more information on volunteering, please contact the Conservation Nature Center at 573-290-5218. The center’s hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Tuesday-Saturday. The Nature Center is located at 2289 County Park Drive in Cape Girardeau, Mo.