Biodiversity - We plant a rich variety of native plants to help support healthy habitats for animals.
Habitat - We provide homes for many animals, such as bluebirds, bats and frogs; and we strive to improve the water quality in our creek.
Restoration - We actively restore our ecosystems. We set controlled fires to annually regenerate and improve our prairie and marsh.
Invasive Species Management - We strive to remove all non-native species from our grounds.
Birdwatching - We offer the opportunity to view our many resident and migratory birds. Binoculars may be borrowed.
Hiking and Snowshoeing - We maintain over 2 miles of trails. Snowshoes may be rented in winter.
Picnic Shelter and Fire Ring - We have picnic facilities available for scouts, families and community groups (reservations required).
Photography - We sponsor an annual nature photo contest. Winners are announced every August.
Classes - We teach programs at the Nature Center. We can also bring nature into your classroom.
Scouts - We offer Girl Scout, Tiger Cub, Wolf Cub, Bear Cub and Webelos Scout programs.
It’s Alive! - We have a 250-gallon aquarium and many other live animals on display.
Discovery Packs! - We encourage you to explore the Nature Center with our self-guided activities for all seasons.
Character Counts! - We support strong character development in youth.
Nature Center History
The origin of
the Nature Center can be traced back to a master plan of development
drawn up in 1958 by the Village of Itasca calling for the acquisition of
a large "Central Park" region. To retain as large a parcel of land as
possible, in 1964, the Village of Itasca, along with the newly formed
Itasca Park District and the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission,
proposed that the Interstate expressway be relocated further to the
west. In 1966, a $140,000 "Keep Itasca Green" Bond Issue Referendum was
passed in Itasca for purchase of the initial 60-acre site.
Nature Center concept started in 1968, when the Village, the Park
District, and the Itasca School District #10 jointly authorized
development of a master plan to construct a nature center.
After much review and modification, the Village of Itasca began
developing the Nature Center in the summer of 1978. Development
continued each summer using local youth in the Green Belt and Youth
Conservation Corps programs.
The present facilities, including
the building and 2 miles of trails, are open year-round. Whether you are
walking through a tunnel of prairie grasses or standing 4 feet above a
cattail marsh on the 700 foot long boardwalk, the sights will take you
back to the days of the explorers. Along your walk you’ll discover a
flowing brook, shady woods, flower-filled meadows and prairies, and
marshes thick with cattails and ancient willows.