Great Plains Nature Center

Great Plains Nature Center A Kansas wildlife habitat in the city. Bird watching. Paved hiking trails. Discovery programs. Indoor wildlife observatory. Connecting people with nature.
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The Great Plains Nature Center is a cooperative project between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and the City of Wichita Department of Park and Recreation. We offer experiences that connect people to the environment, wildlife and conservation measures. The adjacent 240-acre Chisholm Creek Park provides our outdoor classroom. More than two mi

The Great Plains Nature Center is a cooperative project between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and the City of Wichita Department of Park and Recreation. We offer experiences that connect people to the environment, wildlife and conservation measures. The adjacent 240-acre Chisholm Creek Park provides our outdoor classroom. More than two mi

Operating as usual

We say it all the time, because it's true: Great Plains Nature Center would not function without our amazing group of de...
07/06/2021

We say it all the time, because it's true: Great Plains Nature Center would not function without our amazing group of dedicated volunteers. GPNC is currently looking for someone to take up the mantle of Volunteer and Event Coordinator to help us recruit, manage, and organize our volunteer superstars. This position also needs someone detail-oriented with a creative muscle to flex, as they will help plan and organize many of the public events that we put on every year!

If you (or someone you know) is enthusiastic about building community, creating powerful experiences, and leading a corps of very helpful humans, invite them to look over the job description at https://gpnc.org/job-openings/!

We say it all the time, because it's true: Great Plains Nature Center would not function without our amazing group of dedicated volunteers. GPNC is currently looking for someone to take up the mantle of Volunteer and Event Coordinator to help us recruit, manage, and organize our volunteer superstars. This position also needs someone detail-oriented with a creative muscle to flex, as they will help plan and organize many of the public events that we put on every year!

If you (or someone you know) is enthusiastic about building community, creating powerful experiences, and leading a corps of very helpful humans, invite them to look over the job description at https://gpnc.org/job-openings/!

We are back with a new round of Adventure Backpacks, this time giving you the tools to explore the water near you and un...
07/06/2021

We are back with a new round of Adventure Backpacks, this time giving you the tools to explore the water near you and uncover the wonders of wetlands!

These FREE backpacks will be available both at GPNC and Edgemoor Recreation Center starting tomorrow, 7/7, at 9:00am! Please note: Supplies are limited, and backpacks are first come, first serve (limit one per family).

We are back with a new round of Adventure Backpacks, this time giving you the tools to explore the water near you and uncover the wonders of wetlands!

These FREE backpacks will be available both at GPNC and Edgemoor Recreation Center starting tomorrow, 7/7, at 9:00am! Please note: Supplies are limited, and backpacks are first come, first serve (limit one per family).

Reminder: Great Plains Nature Center will be closed on Monday, July 5th in observance of Independence Day. We will reope...
07/04/2021

Reminder: Great Plains Nature Center will be closed on Monday, July 5th in observance of Independence Day. We will reopen at 9:00am on Tuesday, July 6th.

Reminder: Great Plains Nature Center will be closed on Monday, July 5th in observance of Independence Day. We will reopen at 9:00am on Tuesday, July 6th.

A volunteer asked me this week "why don't we see as many pollinators in this rainy weather?" It's something I hadn't rea...
07/01/2021

A volunteer asked me this week "why don't we see as many pollinators in this rainy weather?" It's something I hadn't really thought of before. Doesn't everything love it when it rains? But maybe not- case in point, the only thistle bloom I found was getting zero visitors.

To understand why pollination isn't popular in the rain, you have to get on a bug's level. Firstly, rain can potentially both dilute nectar and disturb pollen in flowers that aren't well-adapted to long rains, making the trip to the flower not worth the expense. Secondly, the rain might interfere with insect senses, making it more difficult to key in on the best blooms. Finally, a few microscopic water droplets on your wings or body might add considerable weight to your take-off, or lower your body temperature enough that flight isn't possible. OH, and let's not forget- the potential impact of a direct hit from a raindrop! For a flying insect, it might be enough to knock you clean out of the air!

(Image: Lawson & Rands 2019- The effects of rainfall on plant–pollinator interactions)

06/30/2021

Senior Wednesday @ GPNC! Explore the Petroglyphs of the Kansas Smoky Hills with Dr. Rex Buchanan.

Aw man, I saw a buttonbush flower today and the first thing I thought of was a coronavirus. 😰These little white globes s...
06/29/2021

Aw man, I saw a buttonbush flower today and the first thing I thought of was a coronavirus. 😰

These little white globes surrounded by yellow-tipped pistils are anything but virulent, though. They are lovely and fragrant and lining Chisholm Creek right, right along the water's edge (a plant that likes to "get its feet wet", as they say). It may take a little while for that association to leave my mind, but more time on the trails should help that process!

Aw man, I saw a buttonbush flower today and the first thing I thought of was a coronavirus. 😰

These little white globes surrounded by yellow-tipped pistils are anything but virulent, though. They are lovely and fragrant and lining Chisholm Creek right, right along the water's edge (a plant that likes to "get its feet wet", as they say). It may take a little while for that association to leave my mind, but more time on the trails should help that process!

The first of Junior Duck Stamp of 2021 was purchased by the good people at Cabela's in Wichita on Saturday! The creator ...
06/28/2021

The first of Junior Duck Stamp of 2021 was purchased by the good people at Cabela's in Wichita on Saturday! The creator of this year's winning artwork, Wichita's-own Margaret McMullen (left), was on hand for a showcase of her outstanding hooded merganser painting alongside the other terrific works submitted by young artists this year.

Congratulations again to Margaret, and everyone who participated in this conservation tradition! A reminder that the proceeds from the $5 Junior Duck Stamp go directly toward environmental education efforts that bring children closer to nature. You can buy this year's stamp online, at your local post-office, or at any of the sites in the USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System!

The first of Junior Duck Stamp of 2021 was purchased by the good people at Cabela's in Wichita on Saturday! The creator of this year's winning artwork, Wichita's-own Margaret McMullen (left), was on hand for a showcase of her outstanding hooded merganser painting alongside the other terrific works submitted by young artists this year.

Congratulations again to Margaret, and everyone who participated in this conservation tradition! A reminder that the proceeds from the $5 Junior Duck Stamp go directly toward environmental education efforts that bring children closer to nature. You can buy this year's stamp online, at your local post-office, or at any of the sites in the USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System!

Yikes! It's only officially been summer for less than a week, and it's already been uncomfortably hot in the Great Plain...
06/25/2021

Yikes! It's only officially been summer for less than a week, and it's already been uncomfortably hot in the Great Plains! Between heat domes and record droughts, this summer is expected to be hotter than average throughout the western half of the U.S.

But of course, don't let that stop you from enjoying the outdoors, just be safe! Wear lots of sunscreen, avoid peak daytime temps., and STAY HYDRATED. Remember that hydration is a slow process, so don't wait until you're already thirsty reach for the water bottle. Drink plenty of water the night before- AND the morning of- a big day out!

Yikes! It's only officially been summer for less than a week, and it's already been uncomfortably hot in the Great Plains! Between heat domes and record droughts, this summer is expected to be hotter than average throughout the western half of the U.S.

But of course, don't let that stop you from enjoying the outdoors, just be safe! Wear lots of sunscreen, avoid peak daytime temps., and STAY HYDRATED. Remember that hydration is a slow process, so don't wait until you're already thirsty reach for the water bottle. Drink plenty of water the night before- AND the morning of- a big day out!

GPNC is now hiring for a Naturalist (Virtual Program Lead)! We strive to connect with people across the Great Plains reg...
06/21/2021

GPNC is now hiring for a Naturalist (Virtual Program Lead)! We strive to connect with people across the Great Plains region and inspire environmental stewardship with our digital presence. This naturalist will conduct both traditional programs and create innovative content to reach thousands of people in the Wichita community and beyond. If you're a strong communicator with a creative streak, tech skills, and a knowledge of the natural world, we would love to work with you!

If you (or someone you know) is interested in joining the growing team at Great Plains Nature Center, direct them to https://gpnc.org/job-openings/!

GPNC is now hiring for a Naturalist (Virtual Program Lead)! We strive to connect with people across the Great Plains region and inspire environmental stewardship with our digital presence. This naturalist will conduct both traditional programs and create innovative content to reach thousands of people in the Wichita community and beyond. If you're a strong communicator with a creative streak, tech skills, and a knowledge of the natural world, we would love to work with you!

If you (or someone you know) is interested in joining the growing team at Great Plains Nature Center, direct them to https://gpnc.org/job-openings/!

Some good news: we have another full house with our purple martins this year! 8 gourds, 8 nests. In fact, some of the ea...
06/18/2021

Some good news: we have another full house with our purple martins this year! 8 gourds, 8 nests. In fact, some of the early clutches are already hatching! These baby beans are extra fresh, and have a busy four weeks ahead of them as they fledge.

Be like these brand-new martins during this stupidly hot weekend: relax, move as little as possible, remain in the shade, and have a family member bring you food. 👍

Some good news: we have another full house with our purple martins this year! 8 gourds, 8 nests. In fact, some of the early clutches are already hatching! These baby beans are extra fresh, and have a busy four weeks ahead of them as they fledge.

Be like these brand-new martins during this stupidly hot weekend: relax, move as little as possible, remain in the shade, and have a family member bring you food. 👍

A cool visitor to the wetlands outside the Wildlife Observatory this morning: the little blue heron! South Central KS is...
06/16/2021

A cool visitor to the wetlands outside the Wildlife Observatory this morning: the little blue heron! South Central KS is actually at the very northern edge of this mostly-tropical bird's range. Perhaps the sudden heat and humidity are a welcome change for this guy- not so much for the rest of us. 🥵

We get plenty of the great blue heron (and it is indeed pretty great), but the little blues are just much... bluer? I need someone with an art or design brain to tell me what shades of blue we're seeing here. Cyan? Cerulean? Royal? Ultramarine?!

*

A cool visitor to the wetlands outside the Wildlife Observatory this morning: the little blue heron! South Central KS is actually at the very northern edge of this mostly-tropical bird's range. Perhaps the sudden heat and humidity are a welcome change for this guy- not so much for the rest of us. 🥵

We get plenty of the great blue heron (and it is indeed pretty great), but the little blues are just much... bluer? I need someone with an art or design brain to tell me what shades of blue we're seeing here. Cyan? Cerulean? Royal? Ultramarine?!

*

When we see the milkweed blooming, we often think of how important it is to the monarchs. But this native plant is cruci...
06/14/2021

When we see the milkweed blooming, we often think of how important it is to the monarchs. But this native plant is crucial to many species of insect, and not just butterflies! Consider this longhorn milkweed beetle: their eggs are laid inside the stem of the milkweed, their larvae feed and pupate in the roots, and as adult they eat the leaves (becoming toxic in the process). Potentially, a whole life lived on a single plant or patch!

When we see the milkweed blooming, we often think of how important it is to the monarchs. But this native plant is crucial to many species of insect, and not just butterflies! Consider this longhorn milkweed beetle: their eggs are laid inside the stem of the milkweed, their larvae feed and pupate in the roots, and as adult they eat the leaves (becoming toxic in the process). Potentially, a whole life lived on a single plant or patch!

Art and animals on a beautiful Saturday afternoon? How can you say no to this Rufus Request?
06/12/2021

Art and animals on a beautiful Saturday afternoon? How can you say no to this Rufus Request?

Ah, a American Lady on a Yellow Coneflower. I don't have any further comment, that's just a very photogenic pairing.OKAY...
06/11/2021

Ah, a American Lady on a Yellow Coneflower. I don't have any further comment, that's just a very photogenic pairing.

OKAY, maybe one quick question: how many flowers do you think that butterfly is perched on? Does that sound like a trick question? It sure is! And the answer? I don't know!

Each of this coneflower's yellow "petals" is actually a ray flower consisting of five petals fused together, while the central "cone" itself is a composite of dozens of tiny flowers. So really, that's 100+ pollinator friendly blooms per stalk, meaning that planting a coneflower is some real bang for your buck.

Ah, a American Lady on a Yellow Coneflower. I don't have any further comment, that's just a very photogenic pairing.

OKAY, maybe one quick question: how many flowers do you think that butterfly is perched on? Does that sound like a trick question? It sure is! And the answer? I don't know!

Each of this coneflower's yellow "petals" is actually a ray flower consisting of five petals fused together, while the central "cone" itself is a composite of dozens of tiny flowers. So really, that's 100+ pollinator friendly blooms per stalk, meaning that planting a coneflower is some real bang for your buck.

Don't forget! Great Plains Nature Center is coming to your neighborhood this summer for a number of activities, includin...
06/10/2021

Don't forget! Great Plains Nature Center is coming to your neighborhood this summer for a number of activities, including Nature Time for Tots.

This repeating event brings exciting new nature experiences to Wichita's recreation centers, including art, animals, and outdoor play! Register for Nature Time here: http://bit.ly/nature_time_register

Don't forget! Great Plains Nature Center is coming to your neighborhood this summer for a number of activities, including Nature Time for Tots.

This repeating event brings exciting new nature experiences to Wichita's recreation centers, including art, animals, and outdoor play! Register for Nature Time here: http://bit.ly/nature_time_register

HEY! LOOK AT THIS PUPPY. Yes, I know it's technically a bison calf, but they are nicknamed "red dogs" for their fuzzy or...
06/09/2021

HEY! LOOK AT THIS PUPPY.

Yes, I know it's technically a bison calf, but they are nicknamed "red dogs" for their fuzzy orange fur when they're born. June is the end of baby bison season (every mother has only one), so these little ones at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge are sticking close to mom until they're weaned.

Very cute. Would make a terrible pet, but very cute.

06/08/2021

Hey! Are you like me: unable to breathe effectively through your nose for about four months of the year?

Well, this is part of the reason why: cool season grasses like this Eastern gamagrass are in bloom now- not to mention all of the wheat fields flowering the last few weeks. A simple shake of a blooming stalk of grass will release a terrifying cloud of pollen that is making me stuffy just looking at it.

Stay strong, allergy sufferers, our plight has only just begun.

06/07/2021

Have you ever been as EXCITED for something as this bumblebee is for penstemon? He can barely squeeze into the blooms, but just look at that gusto. Perhaps you just need something new and fresh to pique your interest. Might I suggest that you also get excited about wildflowers?

Lots of beautiful things in bloom, guys! Tell us what you're seeing out there. 🤩

Don't forget, it's Free Fishing Weekend this Saturday and Sunday! The perfect way to get outside this weekend, because i...
06/04/2021

Don't forget, it's Free Fishing Weekend this Saturday and Sunday! The perfect way to get outside this weekend, because it's starting to get hot out there. 🥵

If your little ones need some pointers before you go, come join the free fishing clinics as part of our O.K. Kids Event, Saturday 6/5 from 10am to 1pm!

Mark your calendars and grab a buddy to join free fishing weekend in Kansas - June 5-6, 2021.

Start planning now, visit ksoutdoors.com/Fishing to find a fishing spot, check out reports and forecasts, and more.

Anglers do not need a fishing license during free fishing weekend. All other regulations and statewide creel and length limits are still in effect.

New month = New story walk! Stroll the Quail Trail in Chisholm Creek Park this June to read the amazing bilingual tale o...
06/03/2021

New month = New story walk! Stroll the Quail Trail in Chisholm Creek Park this June to read the amazing bilingual tale of Señorita Mariposa, by Ben Gundersheimer and Marcos Almada Rivero.

Don't forget to see the milkweed currently blooming in our native garden too- Señorita Mariposa is likely to drop by for a visit! 😁

It's terrific to see Great Plains Nature Center and Kansas Wildlife Exhibit included among these fine attractions. Now t...
06/03/2021
Things to Do With Kids in Wichita

It's terrific to see Great Plains Nature Center and Kansas Wildlife Exhibit included among these fine attractions. Now that the rain has let up for a while, check out some of the wonderful things to do in Wichita this summer!

Wichita is the perfect place for a family getaway. It won’t break your budget, is family-friendly, and there's plenty to do for all ages - even as young as 3!

Spotted any bubbly plants lately? Don't worry, it's not something gross. I mean, it is, but it's fine! It's nature! It's...
06/02/2021

Spotted any bubbly plants lately? Don't worry, it's not something gross. I mean, it is, but it's fine! It's nature! It's SPITTLEBUGS.

Spittlebugs (Family Aphrophoridae) are all over the park right now. As a nymph, they feed on tasty plant sap, but take in a lot of excess moisture in the process. Using the extra water and sugar, they blow some bubbles (through their abdomen) to create a barrier of protective foam while they feed and grow. Eventually, they leave behind their nymph exoskeleton in the foam (like the one pictured below), and fly off to go do spittlebug things.

See, it's not gross at all, it's just a cool bug passing copious amounts of foam out of their rear end!

Address

6232 E 29th St N
Wichita, KS
67220

Opening Hours

Monday 9am - 5pm
Tuesday 9am - 5pm
Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Thursday 9am - 5pm
Friday 9am - 5pm
Saturday 9am - 5pm

Telephone

(316) 683-5499

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Our Story

The Great Plains Nature Center is a free facility that is a cooperative project between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, the City of Wichita Department of Park and Recreation and Friends of the Great Plains Nature Center. We offer experiences that connect people to the environment, wildlife and conservation measures. The adjacent 240-acre Chisholm Creek Park provides our outdoor classroom. More than two miles of wheelchair-accessible trails and boardwalks meander through riparian woodlands, prairies, streams and wetlands. An indoor wildlife observatory lets visitors relax in front of a stream of cattail-ringed wetland, where beaver, muskrat, ducks and graceful egrets make regular appearances.


Comments

Some beautiful shots from my visit today
I’m grateful you are still requiring masks!
I enjoy Great Plains Nature Center. Always something to see!
Day 12: Recycle #inktoberonthetrail
Day 10: Body of Water Victoria amazonica #inktoberonthetrail
Playing catch up tonight. Day 5: SCALES Ceroplastes #inktoberonthetrail
#inktoberonthetrail Day7: CRISP
Can anyone tell me what flowers are blooming at the nature center now? I saw some very tall yellow ones near the water; purple ones, green ones with a purple star center. Thank you.
What was this little guy I found in front of my garage door (East of McConnell AFB a bit)
Can anyone there tell me what kind of a toad this is? It was inside a plant on the east side of Wichita.
This question is for Rachael. We have driven out of town three times now. Once to Cheney and twice to Mulvane. Something very important has been missing in the Sky and on the fences. Birds. I mean birds. Not a hawk. Not a sparrow. Nothing. Where are they? I have never not seen anything like this before and I know my birds. Any ideas?
This is stuck in my window well. What is it? How should I get it out?