Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Lilly Nature Center

We were in West Lafayette the other weekend and stopped by Lilly Nature Center that is part of the Celery Bog Nature Area. As we drove up, it was great to see so many people out using the property, whether they were hiking, jogging, cycling, birding, etc. I love seeing natural spots in the middle of busy life! This is about 195 acres of wetlands, woods, and fields. The small interpretive center also hosts a room for rent for conferences and meeting space.

As we entered the nature center, we were greeted by barefoot children sitting on a log watching a turtle.  What a great way to set the stage for exploring nature! Inside we checked out the wildlife viewing window first. Sound is piped in from outside over speakers so we could hear all the birds outside. The feeders were plentiful and well stocked. We talked about the many birds outside, like the juncos, cardinals, etc.


The lobby has many windows open to the natural world, helping us feel at home in nature. There were a few interactive components that helped us learn more about frogs and other animals. My youngest loved being next to a frog his size! 

Displays near the window taught us about animals found in the marshy area, such as frogs and turtles. 

There is a small play area with puppets and a theater stage. The older boys liked the activity table and playing with frogs as checkers.

This visual showed all the different ways that wetlands are important not just to our surrounding natural areas, but also to our daily life. In the Discovery Zone, there are many activities to take on the trails for an adventure. This is a nice extension of a visit, especially useful for repeat visits. There is also a reading area nearby with great reference books and field guides for nature lovers. 

It was great to see an Indiana Master Naturalist helping keep it open on a Saturday! Thanks, IMNs!

We didn't have tons of time during our visit. When we return, we'll have to check out the trails, water features, and other options outside of the center! I've been here before as part of an Indiana Master Naturalist gathering--it's a neat place! Here is a short video of some of the natural spaces and sounds. It is considered one of the state's important ecological areas. If you're into birding, this site has some advice and tells you what to expect at different times of the year.