Campus at the Cape
and “Pawpaw Valley” are challenging segments.
For those looking for a more leisurely experience, there is a quarter-mile asphalt section along the ridge top to an overlook deck on “Farkleberry Knob.” Or, you can stroll through the nature center gardens learning about native plants that are beneficial for wildlife. Hummingbirds, butterflies and other insects are featured guests.
Another place for outdoor investigation is the marsh at the front of the building. Nets, binoculars or an unaided set of eyes can all be used to see who lives there and how valuable a marsh is. As you fish or wander, purple martins will likely glide by, chirping as they work on nests in gourd-shaped houses.
Children 15 and under can try their luck in the “kids only” fishing area. Fishing poles and worms are available at the information desk.
Assuming all of this gets you itching to visit some public land where you can fish, hunt, trap, hike, camp or observe nature, then “Where to Go” brochures, found throughout the exhibit gallery, will be of interest.
Take a class on campus
The nature center features a 160-seat auditorium, three classrooms and a scientific research laboratory. Interpretive programs and special events are offered year-round to highlight natural history topics, conservation practices and outdoor skills.
School children can participate in field trips tailored to their grade level, and teachers are encouraged to plan events at the Conservation Campus Nature Center. Kids can also join a kids’ club. Teens and adults can experience outdoor adventure through various scheduled offerings.
Classrooms are available to local conservation-minded groups for informational meetings. Specialty workshops are also tailored for educators to help them obtain resource materials and lesson plans. They can even borrow thematic “Discovery Trunks” to introduce conservation education into their classrooms.
A variety of fun, educational items, such as books, videos and nature-related items, are available for sale at the Nature Shop.
As Aldo Leopold wrote in his forward to A Sand County Almanac, “Th ere are some people who can live without wild things and some who cannot.” Because of this, the nature center also serves as a meeting space and resource for volunteers from the community who help present programs, tend trails, answer phones, care for native gardens and participate in scientific research.
The Conservation Campus Nature Center is located in Cape Girardeau’s North County Park, just east of Interstate 55 (Exit 99) and U.S. Highway 61.
The nature center is open Tuesday through Saturday