Runge Nature Center Celebrates 20 Years

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JEFFERSON CITY - Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City celebrated its 20th birthday Saturday with lots of activites for kids and their parents.

The day began with activities like microhikes, crafts, insect sweeping, wetland exploration, fishing, festival tree climb, and meet-and-greets with individuals who have found a nature connection.

Kids stood in line to shoot arrows at balloon targets at the archery station and cheered if someone popped one.  An expert on mussels taught kids about how the mussel has babies with hands-on examples and a video.  The kids got a sheet with 20 nature spots that required signatures.  After learning about a part of nature, the instructor would sign the kids' sheet.  As the kids left the celebration, they got a prize for completing the sheet.

Many parents were excited to get their kids outside and learning.  Amy Buechler had her son and daughter with her and was happy to get the kids "unplugged."

"It's so easy for kid right now to plug into the TV and other things that are not outside.  So whenever we can, we try to get the kids outside and have those opportunities," Buechler said.

She explained how the Runge Nature Center is a popular place for her family.

"We come to Runge almost every weekend and whenever we can.  When I saw that they had this special weekend we thought we'd come out.  We love the trails and the inside exhibits too," Buechler said.

In the afternoon, the kids sang "Happy Birthday" to the nature center and enjoyed cake and ice cream.  The evening was filled with night hikes, exploration stations, popcorn and a movie, and a special canopy climb.

One child was eager to explain what he loved about nature.

"All the flowers are beautiful and you can learn about the insects and other stuff," Luke Hinton said.  Hinton said he likes playing outside and he's an expert at using a hula-hoop.