Connect with nature at MDC KC-area sites during holidays

News from the region
Kansas City
Published Date

Kansas City, Mo. – Indoors or outdoors, nature spices up the holidays. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) offers ways to connect with nature in winter, including activities for families.

MDC staff will present "Vacation with the Critters" from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 26 and Dec. 29-31 at its Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave. in Kansas City. Visitors can see exhibits such as taxidermy mounts of birds and mammals, touch animal pelts such as fox or black bear, see replicas of skulls, and learn to identify animal tracks. All ages are welcome and the event is free.

The Discovery Center also offers a warm place to view birds coming to feeders outside the windows overlooking the courtyard. Those who don't mind winter chill can walk the trails in the native plant garden. Visit for more information.

A nature film festival will be offered by Burr Oak Woods Nature Center 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 27. Films about wildlife, fish, and habitats such as prairie and woodlands will be shown. The Nature Center is at 1401 N.W. Park Road in Blue Springs. All activities are free. Visit for more information.

Burr Oak Woods also offers an extensive trail system for hikes short or long. The woods open up in winter to reveal landscape secrets. Those who walk the trails after snow falls will find animal tracks crossing their path.

A special New Year's Eve event will be offered for youth ages 8 to 18 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 31. The Burr Oak Woods Games will start in the morning with training in skills such as archery, orienteering with map and compass, animal tracking, hunting tips, and how to build shelters to survive outdoors in winter. A lunch will be served, hot dogs cooked on a camp fire. Then in the afternoon teams will form and compete in outdoor skills. This event is free but pre-registration is required. Call 816-228-3766 to register.

Attention late Christmas shoppers, the Nature Shop at both Burr Oak Woods and Discovery Center offer for sale MDC's popular 2015 Natural Events Calendar, books and outdoor activities for kids. A new item this season is Waterfowl Hunting and Wetland Conservation in Missouri – A Model of Collaboration. The book chronicles the state's rich waterfowl conservation history.

The Natural Events Calendar and other publications are also for sale at MDC offices in St. Joseph, Chillicothe, Sedalia, El Dorado Springs, Clinton, and at Lost Valley Fish Hatchery in Warsaw. MDC publications are also available via online shopping at

Happy Holidays to everyone, and for those with cabin fever, visit to see why Missouri is a great place to get outdoors.