Join rangers and PBS Kids’ NATURE CAT on Saturday, May 19 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. to celebrate the re-opening of the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education and National Kids to Parks Day. This popular center marks the western entrance to the national lakeshore in Gary, Indiana. As the park’s education hub, the center serves over 5,000 school students each year and thousands of other visitors. It closed last December to allow for the construction and installation of a new heating and cooling system with a “greener” footprint, as well as new doors and skylight windows.
National Kids to Parks Day is an annual event sponsored by the National Park Trust designed to connect kids and families to public lands, encourage STEM learning, and inspire the next generation of park stewards. NATURE CAT has teamed up with the National Park Trust and other park areas to help celebrate the connection between local parks and nature exploration.
NATURE CAT, co-produced by Spiffy Pictures and WTTW Chicago, is an animated PBS KIDS series designed to encourage children to develop connections with the natural world. Each episode follows its title character and his friends as they embark on adventures of nature investigation. Digital resources related to the series, including games and hands-on activities, are available at pbskids.org/naturecat. NATURE CAT airs daily, check your local listings.
Nature Cat will be attending the event, and guests are encouraged to visit stations inside and around the center to participate in nature-focused activities such as an outdoor scavenger hunt, fort building, arts and crafts, yoga on a dune, birding, and seed ball making to promote native wildflowers and pollinators.
For those looking to get a deeper look into Miller Woods, a picnic hike to the beach and back will be offered at 11 a.m. Participants are encouraged to bring lunches and plenty of water for this hike that totals just over 3 miles. The hike will highlight the surrounding natural area of Miller Woods with its globally-rare black oak savanna habitat, dune and swale topography, and spectacular native plant and wildflower displays. The wild lupine should be in full bloom that weekend.
The Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education is located within Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore at 100 N. Lake Street in Gary. For more information on this or other programs at the Douglas Center, call 219-395-1824 or visit their website at www.nps.gov/indu or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/IndianaDunesNL
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of 417 units of the National Park System ranging from Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty. Located in Northwest Indiana, the park includes 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and 15,000 acres of biologically diverse beaches, woods, prairies, and marshes. Up to 2 million visitors come to the Indiana Dunes each year.