Learning to Go Green in KC

April 22 is Earth Day. This month, inspire your family to care for nature with a visit to one of these educational attractions where conservation is a way of life.

Burr Oak Woods Nature Center

1401 NW Park Rd., Blue Springs, MO. FREE Admission. 816.228.3766

Hiking trails at Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area are open seven days a week. The nature center is always free and is open Tuesday-Saturday.

Burr Oak Woods is one our family’s favorite places to learn about plants and animals that are native to our state. We appreciate their programming from Babes in the Woods for little ones to great classes for children and programs for teens and adults. The team at the nature center reminds visitors nature is all around us. You don’t have to make a special trip to go “find nature.” At the nature center, hands-on exhibits teach about the importance of conservation and nature appreciation. Exhibits include plants, animals and conservation topics.

Volunteer at Burr Oak

Teens ages 14 and up can volunteer at Burr Oak Woods. Call 816.228.3766 for more information about how to apply.

Upcoming Events at Burr Oak (No registration required and all ages are welcome):

  • All About Trees, Saturday, April 1, 10:00-11:00. Find out more about the importance of native trees and pick up a free tree seedling to take home.
  • Bird Watching on Water, Saturday, April 8, 1:00-2:30. Hike with a group to a small pond to look for and learn about Missouri birds that use the area as a habitat.
  • Paper for Pollinators, Saturday, April 22, 1:00-2:00. Celebrate Earth Day and walk in any time between 1:00 and 2:00 to create a recycled paper decoration with native seeds you can plant to grow pollinator-friendly flowers.

Ernie Miller Nature Center

909 KS-7, Olathe, KS. FREE Admission. 913.764.7759

Ernie Miller Park and Nature Center in the heart of Johnson County is a place where people of all ages connect to nature, with trails, forest, creek, prairie and pond to explore.  At the nature center, children enjoy the opportunity to look at native wildlife and learn about their natural habitats. The exhibits teach visitors about native plants and animals and the effect we have on the environment.

Volunteer at Ernie Miller

Volunteer opportunities for adults and teens (with parental permission) on an individual basis.  The nature center works with youth or adult groups wanting to schedule a service project.  Call 913.764.7759 for information.

Upcoming Events at Ernie Miller (Register at 913.764.7759 or ErnieMiller.com)

  • For the Love of Earth!, Saturday, April 22, 1:00. Earth Day is an opportunity to tackle environmental awareness.   Meet Mother Nature with her animal friends, make a craft to take home and learn about nature’s recyclers, plus attend a native plant program with a master naturalist. Explore the forests and prairies and discover how you can become green at heart. Help us celebrate the 47th anniversary of Earth Day. Registration is required. For more information call 913.764.7759. Event lasts one to two hours; $5 and $7 for nonresidents.
  • Summer Amphitheater Programs (all ages), Fridays, June 2, 9, 16, 23 and July 7, 14 & 21, 7:00 p.m. Admission is $3/person paid at site. Current Schedule: Stories Under the Stars (June 2), Owls: Eyes of the Night (June 9), Back from the Brink (June 16), Snakes Alive (June 23), Animal Exploration (July 7), Wildlife Who’s Who (July 14) and Kansas Symbols (July 21).

Lakeside Nature Center

4701 E. Gregory Blvd., Kansas City, MO. FREE Admission. 816.513.8960

Located in Swope Park, Lakeside Nature Center is home to native wildlife, including birds of prey, snakes, amphibians, turtles, fish and invertebrates. The center helps care for injured animals and abandoned native animals. With interactive exhibits teaching the importance of conservation and the role we play in protecting nature, the center is dedicated to education.

Volunteer at Lakeside Nature Center

FOLNC members help with many areas, from cage construction to fund raising, from education outreach to animal care and from exhibit maintenance to habitat conservation. Call 816.513.8960 for information.

Upcoming Events at Lakeside Nature Center:

  • Hike Swope Park with a Naturalist: These free scheduled hikes are open to the public. Dress for the weather and bring water on the hike. The hike is not appropriate for strollers. This guided hike corresponds with some of the public events at Lakeside Nature Center (Earth Day on April 22, Celebrating Urban Birds on May 13, the Bug Extravaganza on June 17, Kids, What’s Out at Night? on Aug. 19, Wilma the Turtle’s Birthday Party on Sept. 16). Hikes begin at 10:00 in the morning on April 8, April 22, May 13, May 28, June 11, June 20, July 8, Aug. 19, Sept. 16, Sept. 30, Oct. 14 and Oct. 21.

Powell Gardens

1609 NW US Hwy. 50, Kingsville, MO. Admission charged. 816.697.2600

Powell Gardens is dedicated to education through programming. As a habitat that attracts many different bird species, Powell Gardens is a member of the Great Missouri Birding Trail. The gardens provide year-round protection and sustenance to native and migratory birds through cultivating and protecting native plant species. Our family’s favorite summer tradition—and the garden’s signature event—is the Festival of Butterflies on the first and second weekends of August. The event allows visitors to experience the wonder of butterflies and other pollinators up close to better understand their important role in our natural world—such as helping us to grow food!

One of the best ways to learn more about the environment and the role of native plants in benefitting the planet is on one of the nature hikes, hosted year-round by Alan Branhagen, director of horticulture. The 3- to 4-mile hikes highlight different aspects of Midwestern landscapes, such as native bird species, native plants and important insects.

Volunteer at Powell Gardens

Families (kids ages 12 and up) may volunteer at Powell Gardens. On Earth Day (April 22), families may dig into varying garden projects throughout the campus. Shifts are two to three hours, and then folks are free to explore the gardens on their own. Other volunteer opportunities include the Festival of Butterflies and the Glow Festival. All of these initiatives not only support and raise awareness of the gardens, they are all tied into Powell Gardens’ mission and have an educational component. Call 816.697.2600 for information.


Kristina Light’s girls always look forward to adventures exploring the great outdoors in Kansas City, and Powell Gardens is one of their favorite places in the area.


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