East-central Illinois has a natural diversity all its own—from oak savannas to prairie, from woodlands to wetlands. Park district natural areas, facilities and programs provide opportunities for visitors to explore topics ranging from spring wildflowers and nocturnal wildlife to prairie ecosystems, wetland habitat restoration and more.
PROGRAMS YOU SIGN UP FOR
Preschoolers and their parents discover nature firsthand during environmental programs that include hikes, hands-on learning, stories and crafts. Seasonal programs encourage preschoolers' curiosity in nature, engage their senses, and provide an platform for outdoor investigations. Learn about the March 2019 Forest Preschool pilot program in the Forest Preschool Parent Handbook here. Find more information about preschool nature programs in the Program Guide.
Nature Day Camp in the summer offer kids (preK-5th grade) an in-depth time to explore nature, science and the environment.
A summer leadership program gives teens a fun way to gain new skills while engaging with younger campers. Download a Counselor-In-Training Application here.
Natural history, science and environmental topics are offered each season just for adults. For those interested in organic gardening, community garden plots are available to rent at Meadowbrook Park. The Meadowbrook Organic Garden service offers a place for you to grow your own produce.
All Ages programs are open to anyone - individuals and families alike. They offer a variety of ways for you to interact with and increase your knowledge about the natural world. Both free and fee-based programs are offered at the Anita Purves Nature Center and at district natural areas. Find more informationin the Program Guide.
PROGRAMS BY REQUEST
These environmental education programs, offered both on and off park district property, correlate with state and national learning standards. We focus on preschool through grade 5, but programs can be customized. Browse our current Nature Connections booklet or contact Chelsea Prahl for more information. Each spring, teachers receive an educational services brochure for the next school year. Click to fill out a Naturalist in the Classroom Request Form or School Tours Request Form.
Traveling Naturalist Programs and Special Tours
These programs, offered both on and off park district property, are available for local scouts, clubs, churches, community groups, senior centers and more. Audience age may vary from preschoolers to senior citizens. Learn more about these programs in the Anita Purves Nature Center brochure and the Preschool Programs By Request flyer.
Nature Birthday Parties are a fun alternative to traditional parties and often include a visit from one of the Anita Purves Nature Center’s education animals. Click here to submit a nature birthday party request.
Nature Discovery Packs
Borrow a Nature Discovery Pack and take it along with you when you explore local parks and natural areas. These packs include suggested hiking activities and related equipment such as magnifiers, binoculars and field guides. Specific packs about astronomy, birds, ponds, Busey Woods and Meadowbrook Prairie are available. Call 217-384-4062 for more information.
Educational Loan Boxes
Borrow a loan box and dive deeper into many nature topics in your classroom.