In today's fast-paced world, many people seek information only found in books or online, versus hands-on experience. Great Plains Nature Center, as it is today, is a cooperative partnership consisting of city, state and federal employees. All three agencies have one main purpose: educating the community about the natural resources of the Great Plains.
When visiting the center with children, it is amazing to see how much they do not know about not only the environment, but what some animals, plants and bodies of water do for people and for other organisms in each community.
Throughout the Koch Habitat Hall, donated by Fred and Mary Koch, visitors will find information on the Prairie, the effects of European settlement, different streams and wetlands and life and death of a tree.
Also featured on the pathway of the hall is a wildlife observatory room, and for Shaeley's young sister, Aubrey, this was the main attraction. She would find it more enjoyable to sit and watch the ducks, because of how they moved through the water. She loved how they rode the current downstream and got up and did it all over again as if it were a game.
As Shaeley's sister, four-year-old Brittley, yells out "The ducks that were hanging from the ceiling were so cool, but how did they do that?"
She was referring to the Canadian geese that hung from the ceiling as you enter the building. Brittley learned that they once had been real, but are now stuffed with special material so we can see what they looked like up close when they were alive.
Brittley found the geese to be so neat. Shaeley was proud of her ability to read about the different animals and be able to follow the information on the wall displaying the life and death of a tree.
Programs are also available for other age groups and interests. Adults have the opportunity attend overnight trips to observe wildlife. School groups can also schedule organized field trips to view wildlife.
Families, groups, individuals and others visit not only the center, but the also the adjacent Chisholm Creek Park. The Chisholm Creek Park is home to almost 125 different wildflowers, 38 trees and shrubs, 20 mammals, 160 birds, 21 species of reptiles and amphibians and almost 13 different species of fish.
Local resident, Jenaca Rodriguez, runs the park's walkway at least 3-4 times weekly. "I like the pathway because the trail is gorgeous, and it is nice to see the trees and how the colors change with the different seasons," Rodriguez says.
Rodriguez continued on her run, I looked over to see three little girls overlooking the water and the long path ahead, completely thrilled to see the blue skies with birds flying above them. Looking toward the water, ducks were swimming in circles and occasionally bobbing their heads in and out of the water.
Posted on a wall as you exit the exhibit is a quote from Baba Dious that reads: "In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught."
Dioum must be right, because the opportunity that the girls had to be able to visit this free center and gain some knowledge will benefit them as they may turn around and teach someone else about what they had learned.