Surrounded by buildings, railroads and cement, a serene place that shows the Earth’s natural beauty awaits visitors. Down a dirt road is a place where nature reigns supreme, and people are taken back in time.
Established in 1975, this 152 acre paradise has thrilled kids and families for 40 years. Since then, they’ve established educational summer camps for kids, summer concerts, outreach programs and an annual birdhouse competition. Their exhibits include Birds of Prey, the Birdhouse Trail, Arrowhead Pond and many others. Almost the entire staff consists of volunteers, which shows the love that the community has for the Ogden Nature Center.
“I started helping with the kids camps they do over the summer,” Laurie Mercer, a volunteer, says. “This summer job feeds that love for nature. I still get to be around kids and families.” Mercer teaches kindergarten during the school year and loves doing the volunteer work in the summer.
One highlight of the Nature Center is the Birds of Prey exhibit. The birds they have are either imprinted or rescued birds. The newest edition is Jay, the Harris Hawk. The Bald Eagle and a Peregrine Falcon are two of the majestic birds at the center. “I like the owls,” Maddy Lucas, a volunteer says. “I volunteered because I love animals. I like to help out.”
The Nature Center also has a mile and a half of walking trails around the area. With the many ponds, animals and fun activities, families and kids can come to have fun daily. “It’s one of the places in Ogden where you can bring your children and let them be kids,” Brandi Bosworth, Public Relations Coordinator, says. “Let them run. Let them explore.”
Another highlight of the Nature Center is the annual birdhouse competition. For about 22 years, anyone can enter this fun contest. For this year’s competition, there were about 85 entries. “We like to incorporate art and science into everything at the nature center,” Bosworth said. “We had about 85 new birdhouses this year.”
From a basketball, a computer hard drive, to classic birdhouses, visitors can see these works of art on the Birdhouse Trail. Towards the end of June, the artists can either sell, donate or take their birdhouse home with them. “It’s one of the main draws, and it’s a mainstay of the nature center,” Bosworth said. Mercer also agrees with the Birdhouse Trail being a main attraction. “It’s neat to see how the families work together to build the birdhouse,” she said.
But the real highlight of the Ogden Nature Center is their determination to help educate the community about nature. “Our core mission is environmental education,” Bosworth continued. “We have teacher naturalists; all of them have bachelor’s degrees, some master’s degrees in the related fields: biology, botany, zoology, environmental ed especially. They’re great educators,” Bosworth continues.
Tucked away within a busy city, the Ogden Nature Center offers a step back away from technology and into a preserved piece of the Earth’s beauty.