MDC: Cape Nature Center seeks new volunteers

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- The Missouri Department of Conservation's (MDC) Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center is hosting a Volunteer Open House on Saturday, Oct. 10, from 1 to 3 p.m. Jamie Koehler, the assistant manager of the center, said the event will include a tour of the center and an opportunity to hear from current nature center volunteers.

Nearly 500,000 people have visited the center in the 10 years it's been open. Naturalists and volunteers have led just over 5,000 nature programs in that time, teaching community members all types of outdoor skills such as archery, Dutch oven cooking, fishing, canoeing and other skills.

"With an employed staff of only nine, we depend heavily on our volunteer force," Koehler said. They bring enthusiasm for nature to everything they do here, and that type of enthusiasm is contagious."

There are currently 47 individuals who volunteer their time at the center. Nature Center volunteers contribute to the operation of the center in many ways, including maintaining the native landscaping that surrounds the center, teaching nature programs, making props and costumes for nature programs and assisting with general office tasks. Koehler said the volunteer force has contributed more than 80,000 hours of service, which translates into a savings to the center of more than $1.5 million.

"It would take about 38 full time employees to generate the contribution that our volunteers make to the Nature Center," Koehler said. "If you enjoy helping others discover nature, you may be just the right person to join our volunteer team."

The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center is located inside Cape Girardeau's North County Park, just east of Interstate 55 (Exit 99) and Kingshighway (State Highway 61). More information about the center can be found online at