Inside the Visitor Center - Come On In & Then Go Outside
Inside the Visitor Center you will find a lobby and reception area, an exhibit room (the Animal Amphitheater) and classroom/rental room (Sunroom), offices, water fountain, and restrooms. The building is wheelchair accessible, with the exception of the lower level of the amphitheater.
Animal Amphitheater is an intimate space where children take delight in seeing live animals, crawling through a log, and using touch-and-see exhibits. Taxidermy of native species of birds and mammals are displayed in the habitat diorama. Called the amphitheater because of two steps down to a "sunken" floor, it is designed for a large group to gather for a program. Although it is best for up to 30 to 40 elementary students, we have seated as many as 60 in this area.
The Sunroom is a classroom with large windows facing south and east. A kitchenette, marker board, tables and chairs make it an ideal room rental for parties, meetings and programs. It is wheelchair accessible.
Got a Question?
Many people come to the visitor center with a question. Use the reference library to identify a bird or plant; browse the informational handouts to learn more about our plant and wildlife resources. Naturalists may be available to answer nature and landscaping questions, however calling ahead to make an appointment is preferred.
Informational brochures include:
- Buckthorn Removal
- Invasive species
- Native Plant Landscaping
- Rain gardens and landscaping for water quality and more
Also available are Adult and Children's Resource books for use on-site.
Captivating indoor exhibits include:
- Children's books and reading corner
- Crawl-Through Log and wildlife puppets
- Informational bulletin boards on volunteers and upcoming programs
- Informative and colorful signs about oaks and the animals that depend on them.
- Live Animals - Snake, toad, and salamander
- Neighborhood Preserves maps and brochures
- Pedal-power Energy Bike that powers a fan and lights
- Phenology Calendar for visitors to track seasonal wildlife and plant observations
- Skulls, antlers and furs to touch
- Solar Photovoltaic display with touch screen computer
- Watershed Quiz Board and Computer Kiosk
Outdoor Exhibits include:
The Energy Bike is a fun learning tool that helps kids discover how kinetic energy can be transformed into electrical energy. Students compare the amount of 'pedal power' needed to light up a compact fluorescent bulb, an incandescent bulb, or power a 12-volt fan. The Energy Bike may be requested for school outreaches or special events.
Nature Center Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panels
In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, the City applied for and received a Solar Energy Legacy Grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar educational components for the Nature Center. PV cells collect the sun's rays and transform them into useable electric power.
The Nature Center PV project consists of eight 3-foot by 4-foot panels, installed as an awning on the south (front) side of the building. The panels are connected by micro inverters that convert the direct current (DC) produced by the cells to alternating current (AC) that our homes and businesses use for electricity. These particular inverters also allow us to see how much energy each panel is producing.