Connect with nature this Thanksgiving break with MDC

News from the region
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – As many prepare to get the best deals on holiday gifts this week, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) encourages the public to take a break from the shopping bustle and unwind with nature.

MDC’s nature centers help the public connect with nature in a variety of ways, including through nature trails and wildlife exhibits. Spend a day this holiday season learning about Missouri’s native flora and fauna. For more information on nature centers, visit Some notable programs this week include:

  • Shopping Alternatives: Gifts from Nature

Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City

Friday, Nov. 29 & Saturday, Nov. 30 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Create unique holiday crafts with family using naturally-beautiful gifts from nature. There will be many stations to choose from. No registration required! Learn more at

  • Discover Nature: Black Friday Walk Off the Turkey and Pie Stroll

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in St. Louis

Friday, Nov. 29 from 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Get outdoors and walk off the turkey and pie while you witness the sunset and watch the moon slowly settle to the horizon. Register at

  • Outdoor Skills: Dutch Oven Cooking

Cape Girardeau Nature Center

Saturday, Nov. 30 from 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Learn how to cook in cast iron over a campfire. There will be tasting, too! Register at

  • Wildlife: Discovery Table: Wild Turkey

Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center in Joplin

Saturday, Nov. 30 from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Stop by to learn about wild turkeys in Missouri and make a turkey craft to take home! No registration required. More information at

  • Nature Art: Ozarks Whittlers and Woodcarvers

Springfield Conservation Nature Center

Saturday, Nov. 30 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Stop by to see members of the Ozark Whittlers and Woodcarvers transform wood into treasures. All ages welcome! More at

  • Mammals: Squirrels in Winter: Settling In or Staying Active

Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center in Kansas City

Saturday, Nov. 30 from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Squirrels have winter ways to survive the extra cold times. Learn what they do, make a craft, go hunting for squirrel nests, and try your survival skills by building a leaf hut. More information at

Residents can explore other natural areas anytime with help from MDC’s MO Outdoors app. The free mobile application offers information on nearby conservation areas, accesses, offices and more. Users can view what features and activities are available at each location, download maps, and view hours of operation. MO Outdoors is available for download through iTunes for Apple devices and through Google Play for Android devices.

Interested in giving nature-themed gifts this season? MDC’s online Nature Shop offers several outdoor items, including the popular Natural Events Calendar with 12 months of stunning photos and daily notes about wild happenings throughout the year. The calendar is available in the Nature Shop at or at MDC’s nature centers and regional offices for $9 plus tax.

Other favorite publications from the Nature Shop include the Cooking Wild in Missouri cookbook, A Paddler’s Guide to Missouri, and Missouri’s Wild Mushrooms.

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish so give the gift of hunting and fishing permits. Buy Missouri permits from numerous vendors around the state or online at