Pollinator Paradise
by Rebecca Peters

This week I visited the Dickinson County Nature Center!  They have recently extended their hours to be open Tuesday-Saturday from 10-4.  It is free to visit and enjoy all of the educational exhibits. Most of the special programs they offer are also free, but registration is required.  They are limited in size, and fill up fast!

The Nature Center provides two levels of entertainment indoors!  I started my adventure by playing in the sand and learning about topography.  Then I learned how a glacier formed our chain of lakes.  The sunroom shows floor-to-ceiling images of how big the roots are of common prairie plants that can be seen outside the windows of the Nature Center.  They also have a life-size Osprey nest, and examples of common bird wingspans. (My “wingspan” is about the size of an Osprey!) I crossed a bridge to visit Annie, the painted turtle, and learned about colors in the new rainbow play area.  Then I played in the new Pollinator Paradise addition!  I put on a bee vest to collect pollen, and started shooting pollen into apple trees located in the center of the room.  I matched the baby pollinators with what they become when they grow up, and got it perfect the first time! The food truck that serves pretend food is another favorite feature of many visitors!  The play food found in the truck only exists because of pollinators.  I planned a yard that got a 71% score in it’s ability to attract pollinators, and email myself the list of plants.  I looked at the bees living in the Nature Center hive that was built into the wall, allowing visitors to see the bees working.  I also climbed through the life-size honeycomb, which only seemed fitting since I was still dressed as a bee!

After hanging up my bee vest, it was time to explore the lower level of the Dickinson County Nature Center.  There is a fun space-themed play area with an obstacle course for kids.  I skipped and spun my way through the obstacle course.  I got to hear what several mammals sound like, and compare the size of my handprint to their paw print.  But the best part of the lower level, in my opinion, is the wide variety of animal ambassadors!  A hedgehog, bunny, toads, fish, snakes, and many more call the Nature Center home.  It’s fun to see these animals up close, but I’m glad there was glass between the snakes and I!  Regardless of your age, a trip through the Nature Center is a lot of fun!  On a nice day, pack a lunch and enjoy it on the deck overlooking the wetland that is home to two trumpeter swans.

Hear more about this adventure in the opens in a new windowVacation Okoboji podcast!

I hope you are inspired to visit the many attractions that are sure to entertain you in Okoboji.  Plan your own Okoboji adventure, and visit the Dickinson County Nature Center soon!   Learn more about the Nature Center and other fun adventures in the Iowa Great Lakes area at www.VacationOkoboji.com.

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