Free Fun at the White Cedar Nature Center

Don’t think of Door County’s State Parks as just another place to hike and camp! Stop by and meet some special guests at the Parks this summer!

It was just another beautiful summer day at the White Cedar Nature Center in Peninsula State Park, and I was helping out during the midday shift. The nature center offers many free programs and as a former camper, it gives me a chance to revisit many of the outdoor adventures that my family experienced over the years.

Approaching the nature center, you’ll see campers and visitors of all ages taking advantage of the free programs offered. Multiple children were coming in to share their “finds” with Kathleen Harris, the Center Naturalist. She is always very appreciative of the different treasures that children (and adults) bring in to have her identify, and ultimately, share with future visitors to the center.

Before leaving, Kathleen gave me an overview of what was happening at the center. There is usually some type of craft available for children, and perhaps a new exhibit to point out to the visitors. She also noted the free fishing poles, Smokey the Bear backpacks and GPS units available for loan in the park against the wall. I thanked her for her help, and wished her a good day!

Early on during my shift, a young boy came up to the desk and remarked about the tiny snakes in one of the aquariums at the center. Although I love nature, I draw the line at reptiles, so I smiled sweetly and said, “Yes, those snakes are fascinating, aren’t they?”

As the day went on, several other visitors came by to ask about the tiny snakes in the aquarium. I didn’t think they were that small, but didn’t want to venture over to find out. I firmly stated, “No they’re not babies, they are just small snakes.”

When one particularly exuberant family started oohing and aahing over the snake exhibit, I realized a need to overcome my fears and make an appearance at the exhibit. I cautiously walked over and glanced at the aquarium. Yikes! There was something new and exciting in the exhibit! One of the new snakes must have had babies, for the tiny creatures were wiggling all over their new glass home!

When Kathleen returned later that day, I proudly told her about the new inhabitants to the Center. She was thrilled to see the tiny additions to the exhibit. Another treasure to share with the many visitors who frequent the Park. I was happy to be part of this Nature Center experience, but did it from a safe distance!

Along with the various animals and reptiles that you may find at the Park’s Nature Center, you’ll find two special guests: Smokey the Bear and the UW Astronomy Department, which will be offering a “Universe in the Park” program this summer.

For more information about these Park Programs and Activities, visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website (http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/). The site has an updated “Get Outdoors!” calendar. Each Park’s office and Nature Center also posts each day’s agenda. Not all activities are available at every Park. Consult the website for specific details about each type of activity.
For a full list of State Parks in Door County, visit http://www.doorcounty.com/experience/scenic-attractions/parks/ .