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Learn about nature any time of year in a 300-acre outdoor classroom. That's the Environmental Interpretive Center, an engaging place run by the University of Michigan-Dearborn surrounded by forests, lakes, meadows and Rouge River habitats. And it lets kids get super hands-on with nature – and how to take care of our resources.
One great way to start is walking in the great outdoors. You and your family can stroll three miles of trails to see the eight-acre Fair Lane Lake and even a waterfall. There's also a community organic garden and the unique Mushroom Garden, featuring fungi galore.
Too chilly – or want to escape the heat? Step into the 13,000 square-foot facility, where the Rouge, which flanks the EIC's western border, is the star. It's featured in several exhibits, along with dynamic videos playing on three screens in a 40-seat auditorium. Or just sit and peer out the wildlife observation room's big windows.
There are plenty of programs, too. Throughout the year, you'll find 12 core offerings geared at pre-K-12 students, says program supervisor Rick Simeck. And, whether you sign up or want to guide yourself, naturalists are here to guide you, along with U-M-Dearborn students. "They learn by teaching about nature, and the kids learn from their teachings," Simeck says. "It's ultimately a win-win."
Sign up for the EIC quarterly newsletter for latest offerings – and register for public programs early, as spots tend to fill fast (especially in fall/the early school year).
"The EIC takes what children learn at school," Simeck says, "and offers a direct connection to nature."