By Brittany Dekorte
20&UNDER is a new series. In this series, students will learn about fun things to do that are both within 20 miles of campus and cost less than $20 to do.
Established in 1976, the Leslie Nature Center was created in memory of Eugene and Emily Leslie. The couple had a deep love of nature and shared their gardens and prairie land with their neighbors.
The center “educates and inspires children and adults to discover, understand, and respect their natural environment,” according to their mission statement. The center seeks to enable “individuals and communities throughout Southeastern Michigan to establish lifelong connections with the natural world and encourages efforts to support and protect it for future generations.”
Part of the way the center does this is through outreach programs and events.
“We offer a variety of public programs, many aimed for adults. One such is our annual Owl Prowl, held in November. We have a Valentine’s event in February, and in the spring we do campus outreach,” said Bri Haywood, who works at the Leslie Visitor’s Center. One such campus outreach event happens at WCC, on Earth Day.
While some events and programs cost extra to attend, general admission to the Leslie Nature Center is free, as is the use of it’s nature trails in the Black Pond Woods, entry to the Critter House, and the viewing of their rescue raptors.
One of the most well known parts of the Leslie Nature Center is it’s Rescue Raptors. The birds of prey have all been injured and are either being rehabilitated, or are too permanently damaged to be released into the wild. They are housed outside for visitors to look at, each with it’s story displayed on a plaque.
The center also hosts a Critter House, with local wildlife such as turtles and lizards on display. The house is open Sundays from 10am to 1pm, and always has helpful volunteers on hand to tell you about their animals.
The Black Pond Woods also boasts fifty native tree species along it’s mile long trail loop. Open from sunrise to sunset, visitors are welcome to walk the loop and explore this protected woodland. Haywood says the trail is a hidden gem of the center.
“Not a lot of people, even in the surrounding neighborhood, know about the trails. They are really good for hiking,” Haywood said.