The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center is located in Cape
Girardeau's North County Park and showcases the rich cultural history
and diverse natural resources of Southeast Missouri. Because the nature
center is located near the Conservation Department's Regional
Headquarters for the Southeast Region and is operated by the Missouri
Department of Conservation it is considered a conservation campus.
Opened in 2005, the facility was made a reality through a close
collaboration with the State of Missouri, the Cape Girardeau County
Government, and many private donors. The area is intended to connect
people with the land because people who interact with nature outdoors
tend to care deeply about what they use or visit.
Indoors, the nature center features hands-on exhibits for all ages.
Gallery visitors can start their experience by learning from Paul
Corbin’s collection of Native American artifacts by viewing primitive
tools that were used to harvest plants and animals hundreds of years
ago. There are interactive exhibits that encourage exploration of the
forest, marsh, swamp, and big river habitats of Southeast Missouri. The
nature center also features a 160-seat auditorium, three classrooms, a
scientific research laboratory, freshwater aquariums, an indoor wildlife
viewing area, and a gift shop.
The nature center grounds include gardens featuring native wildflowers.
At the Kid's Fishing Pond, 15 and younger may fish the pond for catfish,
bass, crappie, and sunfish. Poles and worms are available for use at no
charge and the pond is handicapped accessible. Adults can fish at the
handicapped accessible pond in the surrounding North County Park. Hikers can take advantage of the “White Oak Trace” that features
two miles of nature trails that traverse rolling river hills with sinkholes, deep
hollows, and ravines covered with prominent stands of poplar and oak or
the Ridgetop Trail which is a third of a mile handicapped accessible
trail. The grounds include a hummingbird garden, native plant landscape,
a reconstructed swamp and a demonstration marsh. The forested areas
attract migrating songbirds and forest birds. The pond, marsh, and swamp
attract waterfowl, shorebirds, and water loving songbirds.
Naturalist-led programs for schools, youth groups, and community groups
can be scheduled with a two-week advanced notice. Also scheduled monthly
programs and events for the general public are free of charge. Call the
Nature Center to schedule a program or request a list of activities.