Discover nature this Thanksgiving break with MDC

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Relieve some holiday stress this Thanksgiving by taking a break with nature and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). You can easily connect with the outdoors through free MDC programs, at MDC nature centers around the state, and nearly 1,000 conservation areas with outdoor recreation opportunities.


  • Nature Art: Nature’s Ornaments at Duck Creek Conservation Area in Puxico on Monday, Nov. 23 from 6 – 8 p.m. Make holiday treasures for family or one-of-a-kind handmade gifts for the holidays from the abundance of natural objects this season offers. Staff will show you how to use items such as tree cookies, twigs, pine needles, pine cones, and acorns to create Christmas tree ornaments. A local artist will also be present to instruct how to paint a winter scene on a tree cookie, so dress for the occasion. The class is limited to 10 participants. Masks are required. Register at
  • Discover Nature: Fireside Stories & Night Hike at Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City on Tuesday, Nov. 24 from 7 – 9 p.m. Join staff as they tell stories of lore around the campfire and lead participants on a short night hike on the Runge trails. Dress for the weather and meet at the Runge outdoor pavilion. Masks are required for this program. Registration is required at
  • Discover Nature: Fall Scavenger Hunt at Springfield Conservation Nature Center in Springfield on Tuesday, Nov. 24 from 9  - 11 a.m. and 3 – 5 p.m. Enjoy a fun, fall scavenger hunt while walking the trails of the Springfield Conservation Nature Center. A station will be set up on the sidewalk at the entrance with everything needed for this self-guided activity. Dress for the weather and plan to spend 1-2 hours to complete the scavenger hunt and receive a small prize. Remember to social distance and wear a mask. Learn more at
  • Hiking: Walk Off the Turkey at Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center in Branson on Saturday, Nov. 28 from 10 – 11 a.m. Feel the need to walk off the turkey dinner? Join MDC staff for a mile-long hike along Lake Taneycomo. This naturalist-led hike will dish up some fun facts about wild turkeys. Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes, bring water if needed, and dress for the weather. Register at
  • Discover Nature: Nature Gratitude Hunt at Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center in Blue Springs on Saturday, Nov. 28 from 1 – 1:30 p.m., 1:45 – 2:15 p.m., and 2:30 – 3 p.m. Search the trails near the Burr Oak Woods Nature Center to find hidden “pumpkins” of knowledge about special things only the natural world can do for us. Collect four gratitude pumpkins to redeem for a special prize. Register at
  • Hiking: Beaver Moon Walk to the Mississippi River at Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in St. Louis on Sunday, Nov. 29 from 4 – 5:30 p.m. Beavers are especially busy this time of year as they prepare for the cold winter months. Walk a wooded path to the bank of the Mississippi River at Columbia Bottom where there is evidence of these industrious engineers’ work. Watch the full “Beaver Moon” as it rises over Duck Island and floods the river’s surface with its silvery light. Dress for the weather, including shoes suitable for walking on a dirt path and sand, and bring a flashlight and water bottle. Participants will be asked to social distance and follow local mask-wearing directives. Register at

Find more information about upcoming virtual and in-person events at


Visit MDC online at to Discover Nature through MDC Places to Go ( and MDC Things to Do ( all around the state.

Explore conservation areas anytime with help from MDC’s MO Outdoors app. The free mobile app 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 the App Store for Apple devices and through Google Play for Android devices. Learn more about the app at


Interested in exploring the outdoors, but unsure where to start? It’s as easy as stepping out your door! Join Jill Pritchard as she explores everything nature has to offer in MDC’s free Nature Boost podcast. Learn about the health benefits of nature, wildlife viewing, outdoor recreation, and unbelievable conservation stories. Subscribe and get your own Nature Boost! Listen to episodes on iTunes, Spotify, PodcastOne, or at