MDC's Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center invites public to Sept. 6 open house celebration

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JOPLIN, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center in Joplin will hold an open house to celebrate the opening of the facility from 10 a.m.-noon on Friday, Sept. 6. The Shoal Creek Center is located at 201 W. Riviera Drive in Joplin.

“Shoal Creek is a special place for people of all ages to connect with nature and learn how to take care of it – now and into the future,” MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley said. “The MDC team has worked hard getting this facility ready for re-opening and we hope the community will be pleased with all the indoor and outdoor enhancements of this one-of-a-kind conservation destination.”

One of the first things visitors will notice is the Center’s naturescaped grounds at the front of the building that features a variety of native plantings and highlights the area’s ecosystem. This space is designed to showcase the beauty of native plants and to give visitors ideas on how these native plants can be used in a backyard setting to serve habitat function as well as landscaping fashion.

Inside Shoal Creek, people can visit with MDC staff at the front desk and get information on a variety of programs that will be taught by interpretive staff in the facility’s classroom and on the 33 acres that surround the building. Decorating the building’s interior will be several new temporary displays. These temporary displays will be replaced at a future date by permanent exhibits that will connect the community with conservation by highlighting the uniqueness and significance of the area’s chert glades, Shoal Creek, and other natural features of the area. A newly formed partnership between MDC and the Wildcat Glades Friends Group will offer visitors a redesigned giftshop that will be solely operated by the Friends Group. The group’s Executive Director will also have an office on site.

“We are extremely happy to have this partnership with the Friends Group,” said MDC Education Center Manager Kevin Badgley, who will supervise the Shoal Creek facility for MDC. “Many members of this group were left without a center when it closed last year, but this newly formed group has found a new direction in our community. By working with MDC and the City of Joplin, the Friends Group’s work compliments many of MDC’s and the City’s efforts by assisting with trail maintenance, conservation education, resource protection and community outreach.”

In November 2017, the National Audubon Society announced it was pulling out of the facility – named the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center – that opened in 2007 as a joint venture between Audubon, MDC, and the City of Joplin. When MDC took full ownership of the building on July 1, 2018, it inherited a building that was in need of a structural and educational makeover. While technicians, designers, architects, and other staff worked on HVAC repair, a leaking aquarium, a leaky roof and other maintenance and exhibit upgrades, the MDC office in the building remained open to the public and continued to offer educational programs throughout the year.

Public service and educational programs will continue to be staples of the Shoal Creek facility  when it opens its doors in September, with new hours allowing for weekend visitation. Hours will be Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The building will be closed Sunday, Monday and all state holidays. Trails at Shoal Creek are open every day from sunrise to sunset.