MDC Cape Nature Center launches “Year in Color” lineup with goose cooking, duck decoy carving

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Discover nature in January with Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center’s free event schedule featuring owls, duck decoy carving, hands-on training for preparing Dutch oven bread and cooking goose, and the first hike of 2022!

  • Featured event: "A Year in Color" Kick-off | 1 – 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15 at Cape Nature Center

Join MDC staff for 2022’s kickoff celebration, focusing on the hues which fill our region with blue babbling streams, ancient pink granite, yellow sunflowers, and verdant deep swamps! Missouri is a dazzlingly, colorful place to be, and that’s why this year the Cape Nature Center’s theme is “A Year in Color.”

Crafts, games, and programs are color-coded, matching each to specific categories – red is for wildlife programs; orange is for hunting and shooting; yellow is for outdoor adventure; green is for plants; blue is for water; and violet is for arts and cooking.

“Participation in any color-coded activity will earn a bead of that color to place on a Cape Nature Center carabiner,” said MDC Cape Nature Center Manager Laci Prucinsky. “Attending a full rainbow of six programs, one in each color, will allow you entry into drawings for wonderful prizes!”

The “Year in Color” kickoff program is coded as “wild” color, and participants will earn a bead to represent any color they wish.

  • First Day Hike at the Nature Center | 9 – 11 a.m. on Saturday Jan. 1 at Cape Nature Center

New Year’s Day is a great day to start on a new fitness resolution or just get outside, and MDC staff will help you take that first step with a 1.5-mile hike on the White Oak Trace.

White Oak Trace takes you up and down steep hills, across bridges, and through Wood Duck Swamp. On the hike, we’ll keep an eye out for interesting plants and animals.

All ages are welcome, but participants age 15 and younger must be accompanied by a registered adult. Be sure to please dress for the weather and wear appropriate footwear.

For those participating in the Cape Nature Center’s “A Year in Color,” this program earns a yellow outdoor adventure bead.

  • Outdoor Cooking: Dutch Oven Bread | 6 – 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 5 at Cape Nature Center

No electricity or oven? No problem! Learn how to use a Dutch oven to craft two types of homemade bread with the help of MDC staff. Cast iron Dutch ovens are a staple of camping, fishing trips, and scout events, and many were passed down from yesteryear for their versatility and dependability.

In this program, you’ll discover the basics of using a Dutch oven, including care, and regulating temperature. You’ll also learn the basic understanding of breadmaking, crafting your own bread recipes, and plenty of tips and tricks to getting the most out of your bread.

Participants are asked to please bring warm clothing as portions of this program are outdoors.

This program will earn a violet arts and cooking bead for those participating in our “A Year of Color.”

  • Operation Owl at Tywappity | 6:30 – 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14 at Tywappity Community Lake

Join MDC staff for an evening by the lake as we find out whooo’s awake at night. Bring a camp chair or blanket and bundle up as we learn about the amazing features these birds of prey have that allow them to hunt at night. We’ll also practice calling owls and listening for their reply. Please bring a flashlight and be prepared to sit quietly.

If you are participating in Cape Nature Center’s “A Year in Color,” this program earns a yellow adventure bead.

  • Outdoor Cooking: Duck, Duck, Goose | 1 – 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15 at Cape Nature Center

Waterfowl make a fabulous addition to Missouri’s landscapes (and dinner tables). We'll cover some waterfowl ID basics, then it’s off to the kitchen and the grill. After discussing tips on preparation, we’ll try two duck recipes and a goose recipe – and all participants will get to taste the dishes. This program is intended for adults.

For those participating in "A Year in Color," this program earns a purple adventure bead.

  • Duck Decoy Carving | 5 – 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 28 and 8 a.m. – noon on Saturday, Jan. 29 at Cape Nature Center

Duck, duck, decoy! Here’s your chance to carve your own duck decoy out of cork. The decoy may be used for waterfowl hunting or kept as a unique piece of art. You’ll also learn some basic duck identification and ecology from MDC staff. All materials and tools needed for the two-day course will be provided by MDC.

Please wear clothes you do not mind getting dirty or getting paint on. This class may not be ideal for individuals with asthma or breathing difficulties. Participants younger than age 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

For those participating in the Cape Nature Center’s “A Year in Color,” this program earns a red wildlife bead.

Get connected

All family members that plan to attend in-person and virtual events must be registered. To ensure the safety of all, in-person programs require family groups to socially distance, and masks are recommended. Those interested are also reminded to follow current health recommendations which include stay home if you’re sick, wash hands with soap and water and/or use hand sanitizer, and be considerate of others.

Questions about these events and all others can be emailed to MDC Cape Nature Center Manager Laci Prucinsky at

Advance registration is required for most programs and can be completed here. The first step in registering for a program is creating a profile here. Once a profile is created and event registration is complete, additional details about programs will be sent via email. If you’re having difficulty registering online, you may contact the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center at (573) 290-5218. For more information on MDC or to contact MDC offices, visit MDC online here.

Check out MDC’s other free January events here, and be on the lookout for more in-person programs to register for in February!

Stay in touch

The Cape Nature Center sends program registration reminders and updates to those who sign up by texting “MDC Nature” to 468311. An online subscription is also available to “sign up for updates” at A variety of updates are available at this option, but Cape Girardeau specific updates are available under facility updates and news for southeast region.

Cape Girardeau Nature Center is located at 2289 County Park Dr. in Cape Girardeau, and is open Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. White Oak Trace Trails are open daily, from sunrise – 10 p.m.