Nature education is a major part of our mission. Inside the Audubon Center there are exhibits to appeal to both younger and older visitors, designed to connect with various learning styles. The unique chert glade ecosystem and Shoal Creek, both found in Wildcat Park, are the focus of many of the exhibits. These interactive exhibits prepare visitors to step outside into Wildcat Park, a small example of the Missouri Ozarks found within Joplin.
There are several interactive exhibits designed specifically for children. Wentzscopes, which are easily operated by all ages, allow visitors to explore life in the water and on the glades by magnifying preserved samples of plants and animals. Giant climbable creatures, including the endangered Neosho Mucket Mussel, a Cave Salamander, and Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad, make great teaching tools, as well as great photo opportunities! Our most popular exhibits are the live snake terraria, and the fish, turtles, and other aquatic animals in a 1,300 gallon aquarium system consisting of three interconnected tanks. All animal species on display are native to this area.
Outdoor exhibits consist of learning stations outside the Center and throughout the park. These signs explain the chert glades, Shoal Creek, our on-site cave, native plant gardening, and our distinctive U.S. Green Building Council Silver L.E.E.D. (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified nature center. Be sure to check out our new aviary, or mew, for the American Kestrel. These wild ambassadors will help us connect with new audiences as we strive to protect all native birds and their habitats.
If observing truly wild birds is your goal, you’ll enjoy our wildlife viewing area located right outside our windows. Native plants, feeders, and a water feature attract a variety of birds and other wildlife species all year. The front of the nature center is landscaped with native plants to attract and benefit wildlife. This is a great way to see what native plants you like before “going native” in a portion of your landscape at home.