Places to Go

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From Missouri Conservationist: June 2018

Nature oasis in metropolitan Springfield extends outdoor learning beyond the school year.

When the final bell of the school year rings, how are parents to keep hungry minds fed? Springfield Conservation Nature Center Manager Rudy Martinez suggests an all-natural diet, taking advantage of the center’s linear classrooms. “We get a little over 250,000 visitors a year that come out specifically for the trails, so we know that’s a number one draw here, especially in June when schools are out,” Martinez said.

Located on Springfield’s south side, the 79-acre nature center’s nearly 3 miles of trails, some of which are paved and stroller friendly, offer nature viewing through savanna, wetland, forest, lake, and bottomland prairie habitats, Martinez said.

“It’s a real diverse mix of ecosystems and habitats, where you probably are going to see the biggest variety of wildlife on the trail,” he said.

When the weather discourages outdoor learning, class can resume indoors with the center’s 3,000-square-foot exhibit area, age-specific programs, nature viewing area, and “nocturnal rooms,” which focus on nature after dark and employ elements aimed at the nonvisual senses.

“You actually feel the wind. You can actually smell the forest floor, so we’re exposing people to the various senses through these exhibits,” he said.

Springfield Conservation Nature Center consists of 79 acres in Greene County. It is located in southeast Springfield just west of Highway 65 off the James River Freeway. N37° 07’ 49.44” | W93° 14’ 24.00” 417-888-4237

What To Do When You Visit

  • Bird-Watching Included on the Great Missouri Birding Trail ( The eBird list of birds recorded at Springfield CNC is available at
  • Floating Springfield CNC includes frontage on Lake Springfield, allowing kayaking and canoeing opportunities. Lake access is available through Lake Springfield Park (
  • Hiking Nearly 3 miles of hiking trails within the nature center’s boundaries, as well as connection to trails operated by Ozark Greenways and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. Tours Guided tours and programs are available to organized groups with at least two weeks’ notice. “Our interpretive exhibits are designed to be hands on, so we encourage people to touch things. That’s what they’re designed for.”

—Springfield Conservation Nature Center Manager Rudy Martinez

What to Look For When You Visit

  • Great blue heron
  • Mink Muskrat
  • Red-eared slider

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler