Outdoor Discovery Center
Experience every aspect of Michigan's amazing natural landscape at this educational facility based in a nature reserve, founded by the Van der Meulen family. Based in 120 acres of captivating outdoor terrain, the Outdoor Discovery Center offers the chance to learn about wildlife, participate in activities and enjoy fantastic hikes and views.
Diversity of wildlife
The Outdoor Discovery Center nature preserve is home to a number of wild animals and plants. There are seven different plant communities, including marshland, meadows, shrubs, hardwoods, dunes and prairies. These contain 401 different plant species, 26 species of mammals, 10 species of amphibians, 10 species of reptiles and 172 species of birds. Take a walk, jog - or even cross-country ski! - around the grounds for a chance to spot this incredible range of fauna in their natural habitats. There are also numerous opportunities to learn about these species at the center.
The Visitors Center, which opened in October 2015 is home to many exhibits showcasing the variety of species that call the nature preserve home. The 5,000 square foot center, finished with reclaimed barn wood, brings the outdoors inside. Displays include taxidermy and live animals. The exhibits educate visitors on the five vertebrate animal groups, as well as habitats. The wildlife viewing room allows guests to view the bird feeding station, as well as serving as a play area for small children and rest zone for adults.
Creativity at play
The center has a number of ways to excite the imagination of children. The Imagination Forest was created to provide a children's play area that will inspire creative play using natural materials. Balance beam logs, stepping stumps, rocks, natural materials building area, and a sandbox are woven around trees and wild areas of this space. This area provides an opportunity for fun, safe, free play for all children. Meanwhile, the Fillmore Discovery Park, which consists of 5 acres of trails and ponds that form a natural "playscape" for children as they explore. It also features the only fishing pond found in the whole nature preserve.
A unique learning experience
The fun doesn't end there. The Outdoor Discovery Center also contains the Neshnabe Summer Village, a unique cultural history exhibit that explores the links between Native American cultures, traditions and the natural world. The De Witt Birds of Prey Center houses permanently injured or disabled birds that cannot return to the wild.
The well-trained staff are on hand to ensure that the birds and people are as safe as possible during handling and husbandry procedures. With so many different activities, you'd need more than just a day to explore all of the wonders of this incredible outdoor center that's a must see if you're staying in Michigan.