I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~ John Muir, 1913
Featured Events

Maple Sirup Experience Programs

ALL programs are FULL

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Program Registration

Some programs below require advanced registration and payment. Space is limited.
Classes could be cancelled if minimum enrollment is not met by the registration deadline.
Please contact us at 309-874-2174 or email register@sugargrovenaturecenter.org
for more information or to check availability after the registration deadline.

To Register for a program, please click the program title!

Programs for Kids

Tiny Melodies Gone Wild
Most exciting for children birth to age 4, but all ages are welcome with an adult chaperone.
Fridays, April 7, May 5, & June 2; 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Tiny Melodies: Gone Wild, is an interactive Family Music Making Experience!  Children AND their caregivers will join Meryl Brown, Board Certified Music Therapist, in a variety of music-making opportunities including, but not limited to, instrument play, singing, movement and storytelling.  For more information on this program and others like it, visit developingmelodies.com.
Fee per class: $10/child members; $15/child non-members with an adult chaperone. 
Registration and payment required one week prior to the program.

Homeschool: Four Weeks on the Forest Floor
Ages 9-16 Tuesdays, April 18-May 9 (4 sessions); 2:00-4:00 p.m.

Students will study the progression of wildflowers over a 4 week period by surveying, drawing, and writing about them.  We will incorporate aspects of nature journaling, biology, math, and art in this exciting, innovative class. 
Fee for Series: $32/members; $40/non-members. 
Registration and prepayment required by April 11.

Little Wonders
Ages 3-5 (with an adult chaperone)
Wednesdays, 10:00-11:30 a.m. or 1:00-2:30 p.m.
April 19:  Forest Flowers Afternoon Class Canceled
May 17: Fabulous Fungi Classes Canceled
June 21: Rowdy Raccoons
Discover the wonders of nature in these hands-on, interactive classes.  A snack will accompany story time and a fun craft will be created.
Fee: $5/child members, $8/child non-members with an adult chaperone. 
Registration and payment required by the Sunday before the program.

Girl Scouts: Tracks, Scat, and a Hiking Badge

Saturday, May 13; 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Brownies can earn their Hiker Badge while enjoying the great outdoors.  Discover evidence of seen and unseen animals as you hike the trails! 
Fee: $8/scout.  Snack included. 
Registration required through the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois website, getyourgirlpower.com

Boy Scout Bird Study Merit Badge
Saturday, April 29; 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
This program is for Boy Scouts and leaders ONLY. No non-scouts or siblings please.
By participating in this program, scouts will complete all of the necessary objectives to earn their Bird Study Merit Badge and go home amateur ornithologists. Participants will learn the importance of bird study, how to identify birds by sight and sound, use binoculars and field guides, and how to attract birds to their yard. Please brin g binoculars and a bird field guide if you have them. If not, we have both to loan. A snack and project supplies and resources are included in the price. Scouts are responsible for obtaining the badge. Open to troops and individual scouts. Space is limited.
Fee: $15/scout, $5/leader.
Registration and payment required by April 15

The Art of Animals at Miller Park Zoo

Ages: 10-18
Monday, June 4:  Mammals; 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Monday, August 7: Invertebrates; 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Science meets art in this unique collaboration by Miller Park Zoo and Sugar Grove Nature Center.  Participants will meet some animals and study their physical characteristics, then use this information in sketching a few subjects. All art material will be provided, please bring a lunch.
Fee: $20 per session/member; $25 per session/non-member (Nature Center or Zoo). 
Registration and prepayment required.  Class will take place at Miller Park Zoo.

Nature Exploration Club CLASS IS FULL
Ages 6-12
Tuesdays, June 13-July 25 (6 sessions, no class on July 4); 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Discovery and exploration will be emphasized in this exciting program. Along with environmental themes, show-and-tell, and projects, participants will enjoy plenty of unstructured time in nature.
Fee for series: $100/members, $125/non-members.
Registration and prepayment required by June 6.

Nature Connections CANCELED
Ages 10-16
Thursdays, June 22-July 27 (6 sessions); 12:30-3:30 p.m.

This new program takes nature journaling and gives it a twist!  Make a connection with the natural world by documenting the growth of animals and plants, and the progression of natural areas such as the prairie over a 6-week period.  We’ll hone our powers of observation utilizing art, photography, writing, math, and more!  Potential subjects include crayfish, praying mantises, plants, and various items going through the process of decomposition.  See how they change from the first week to the last.
Fee for series: $50/members, $65/non-members.
Registration and prepayment required by June 6.

Creek Stomp
Ages 6-8; Tuesday, August 1; 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Ages 9-12; Wednesday, August 2; 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m
Kids will love getting wet and muddy as they explore the banks and depths of a nearby creek!  Learn about some of the creatures we might encounter, then head out to creek to see what we can find!
Fee: $25/child members, $30/child non-members.  Please bring a lunch. 
Registration and prepayment required by July 25.

Programs for All Ages

Family Nature Exploration Day

Saturdays, April 1, May 6, & June 3; 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Bring your family out at any time throughout the day.  Create a fun make-and-take craft, take a guided hike at 11:00 a.m., and don’t miss the feeding of the turtles, snakes, and other critters at 1:00 p.m. 
Free.  No registration required.

Sundays in the Saphouse

Sundays, April 2, 9. 16. 23. & 30; 12:00-4:00 p.m.
Enjoy Sundays exploring the nature of Funks Grove! Start your adventure at the Sap House on the lawn near the Covered Bridge where each week a new topic will be featured.  Indoor displays and activities will get you ready for your outdoor exploration.  Check out binoculars and field guides or grab an exploration pack full of items to assist you on your adventure! See the Topic per Date below:
April 9: Letterboxing Adventure
Learn what letterboxing is and follow clues to 7 locations at Sugar Grove to learn more about the site and the plants and animals that call it home!  Earn a prize for completing the challenge!
April 16:  Rabbits & Ribbits
Learn about the Easter bunny’s native relative the Eastern Cottontail Rabbit---pet a pelt, learn to identify tracks and scat, and find out what you should do if you find young rabbits in your yard.  Then explore the world of frogs and toads!  Imitate their calls and find out where to spy them.
April 23:  Garlic Mustard Smackdown
What is an exotic, invasive species and why is managing for them important?  Learn all about our #1 nemesis, help us wrangle it, and taste some garlic mustard salad.
April 30:  Spring Woodland Wildflowers
The only time of year you’ll see these beauties is spring and they won’t be around for long!  Check out an ID card to take on your flower foray!
Free.  No registration required.

Bird House Building Workshop
Saturday, April 22; 11:00 a.m. - Noon
Join us to build a bird house at this exciting workshop! The house will attract House Wrens, as well as Chickadees and Nuthatches while the entry hole is small enough to exclude House Sparrows. All materials are hand cut and pre-drilled by Nature Center volunteers who will also be on-hand to provide assembly instruction and assistance. This program is suitable for individuals and families. Pre-registration and payment is requried. Space is limited. Limit of 2 kits per family.
Fee: &8/kit for Nature Center or JWP Audubon Members; $10/kit for non-members
Registration deadline: April 15

Acoustic Irish Music Jam Session and Blacksmith Demonstration
Saturdays, April 15, May 20, June 17,  
10:00 a.m. - Noon
Acoustic musicians of all levels are invited to join an Irish-music jam session!  Bring your instrument or just enjoy the music! For more details, email mtyner@iwu.edu.  The public is also invited to watch members of the Illinois Valley Blacksmiths Association as they work at the Forge across from the Nature Center parking lot.    
Free.  No registration required

Tuesday Night Trail Runs

Every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. through October 24th, 2017
Sugar Grove Nature Center in Funks Grove invites you to venture out to enjoy the trails or roads on Tuesday evenings.  The usual trail route is 5 miles, and is well marked.  Easy-to-follow road routes of 4 or 7 miles are also an option.  Don’t miss the post run party in the corn crib!  Refuel and refresh while socializing with others.  Snacks and water are provided, and you are encouraged to bring other beverages.  Make it an adventure to look forward to each week! 
Fee: Free, donations appreciated. No registration required.

Family Campfire Programs

Friday, April 21: Flowers in the Forest; 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 7: Fun with Fungi; 2:00-3:30 p.m.
Friday, June 9: Crafty Raccoons; 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Learn about a different nature-related topic each month, then gather aournd the campfire where we will enjoy s’mores and the company of other families that love the outdoors!
Free/members; $5/non-members.  Registration and prepayment required one week prior to event.

Garlic Mustard Smackdown

Saturday, April 22; 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. & Sunday, April 23; 12:00-4:00 p.m.
The garlic mustard plant is exotic and invasive, making it an enemy of our beloved bluebells and the other beautiful spring flowers of the forest.  It takes valuable resources and crowds out the native plants that wildlife relies on and are unique to our area.  You can help!  At the top of every hour, staff will be giving a briefing on the target, then supplying you with the necessary equipment to eradicate this nemesis (gloves and a garbage bag).  Stay as long as you want.  Come with friends, family, or even an organization! 
Free.  No registration required.

Twin City Amateur Astronomers Public Viewing Sessions: Wonders of Jupiter

Saturday, April 29; 8:30-10:30 p.m.
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a giant gas giant planet with a mass one-thousandth that of the Sun, but two and a half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined.   A 20-30 minute presentation on the featured topic will be followed by a sky tour using a laser pointer and telescope observing.  Programs will be held even in the event of an overcast sky, but active rain will cause a cancellation of the event.  When uncertain if a session has been cancelled, check for updates on Facebook (Twin City Amateur Astronomers - TCAA) or twitter (@tc_astro).  For more information, visit www.tcaa.us.
Free.  No registration required.

Twin City Amateur Astronomers Public Viewing Sessions: Summer Binocular Objects

Saturday, May 27; 9:00-11:00 p.m.
You don’t need a large telescope to see object in the Milky Way, or deep space as a matter of fact. Learn what to look for and where you will find it using simple binoculars under a dark night sky.  A 20-30 minute presentation on the featured topic will be followed by a sky tour using a laser pointer and telescope observing.  See description on April 20 for information on weather cancellations.
Free.  No registration required.

National Trails Day

Saturday, June 3; 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Lace up your hiking boots and explore over 7 miles of trails!  Take part in guided hikes led by Illinois Grand Prairie Master Naturalists or explore on your own.  Learn about Illinois mammals, frogs and toads, geocaching, first aid and trail safety, nature journaling, and much more! Check-in at National Trails Day Celebration Headquarters to pick up your hiking passport and begin your journey.  This event will feature activities and hikes for adults, families with children, and even leashed four-legged friends.  Special opportunities for scouts are planned, too!  We encourage you to pack a picnic lunch and plan to stay all day.
Free.  No registration required.

Imagination Grove Fun Day
Thursday, June 8; 10:00-2:00 p.m.
Friday, July 14; 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Tuesday, August 15; 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
While Imagination Grove, our nature play area, is open daily, we have desinated these special days for you to meet other like-minded families that enjoy and appreciate nature-based play.  Stop out anytime between 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. and bring a nature item from home to trade at the Nature Trading Post: shells, nuts, rocks, or anything else you would like to trade.  We will supply lemonade and snacks, your bring energy and imagination!
Free, although a donation such as birdseed, sugar (for hummingbirds), or toilet paper would be appreciated.  See our website for complete wish list.  No registration required.

Arts Fair

A Collaboration Between Inside Out: Accessible Art Cooperative & Sugar Grove Nature Center
Saturday, June 17; 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Join us for a day of immersion in the arts!  All ages are encouraged to take part in workshops, make-and-take activities, and environmental arts!  Artists will be on hand for this show and sale of original art.  Bring your supplies and join in an open plein air painting event that will take place throughout the day.  Performing artists and other local organizations, such as the Irish Music Jam Session, Illinois Valley Blacksmith Association, with more to come!  Food will be available for purchase and bringing your own picnic is encouraged.  More activities are being added as the planning continues. Please watch our websites and social media pages and share the invitation to this event with friends and family!
Free Admission!  No registration for event, some workshops will require pre-registration.
No registration required.

Twin City Amateur Astronomers Public Viewing Sessions: Wonders of Saturn

Saturday, June 24; 9:00-11:00 p.m.
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest in the Solar System after Jupiter. It is a gas giant with an average radius about nine times that of Earth. It is surrounded by an amazing ring system.  A 20-30 minute presentation on the featured topic will be followed by a sky tour using a laser pointer and telescope observing.  See description on April 20 for information on weather cancellations.
Free.  No registration required.

Programs for Adult

Leave That Willow Bee: Pollinators Need Trees and Shrubs, too!

Saturday, April 15 and Friday, May 12; 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Information about pollinator habitat often focuses on blooming plants that pollinators rely on during the summer months. Join Debbie Fluegel, from Trees Forever, to learn how trees, shrubs, and associated woodland plants benefit from pollinators, particularly as food sources in early spring when pollinators begin to emerge and in the winter when plants can be incorporated into existing or new conservation plantings and start planning your plant purchases at the Illinois Prairie Chapter of Wild Ones Natuve Plant Sale on Saturday, May 20th from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the Evergreen FS Building on Hershey in Bloomington. This presentationis for everyone who has an interest in providing habitat for pollinators including homeowners, farmers, acreage owners, and community members.
Fee: $10/member of Nature Center or Trees Forever; $15/non-members.
Registration and prepayment required.

Woodland Wildflower Walk
Sunday, April 23; 2:00-3:30 p.m.
Enjoy a stroll through Funks Grove to discover the diversity of wildflowers that carpet the forest floor. Maximum of 20 people.
Fee: Free/members of Sugar Grove Nature Center or Wild Ones, $5/non-members. 
Registration and prepayment required by Friday, April 21.

Backyard Bird Watching Basics II: Spring Into Birds
Tuesday, May 2; 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Spring migrants are returning daily!  Whether you are just begging to identify birds or need to brush up on your ID skills, here is your chance.  We will review basic bird identification techniques and show you how to identify more than 25 common spring and summer birds! This program is co-sponsored by the John Wesley Powell Audubon Society.
Fee: $10/members members of Sugar Grove Nature Center or John Wesley Powell Audubon Society, $15/non-members.  Registration and prepayment required by April 25.

A Toast to Nature: Bees, Mead, and Beer, Oh My!
Friday, May 19; 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Honey bees make life enjoyable in many ways!  Join Central Illinois Beekeeping Association members, Tom Pankeon and Patti Koranda, to learn about the life of honeybees and how honey can be used to make mead and other beverages.  Participants will sample beverages made using honey and snack on light appetizers.
Fee: $15/members, $20/non-members.  You must be 21 or over to attend this program. 
Registration and prepayment required. 

Summer Solstice Celebration in the Herb Garden

Wednesday, June 21; 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Join us in celebrating the longest day of the year!  Visit our herb garden to see what is growing.  Discover the holistic healing properties of essential oils and how these oils work to support a healthy and balanced lifestyle.  Learn the ins and outs of using crystals to heal, strengthen, and promote healthy herbs.  Create an aromatic lavender wand to take home. Taste herbal teas, refreshing mojitos, and other tonics while you enjoy an assortment of light appetizers!  Learn, sample, sniff, and enjoy an enchanted summer evening in Funks Grove.  Finish off the evening by tossing fresh herbs in the bonfire to insure a prosperous harvest!
Fee: $20/members, $25/non-members.  Registration and prepayment required by June 14.  You must be 21 or over to attend this program.

Nature Camp for Grown-Ups!
Ages 18+
Why should kids get to have all of the fun?  Do you remember the fun you had at day camp as a kid?  Did you always want to go to camp, but didn’t have the opportunity?  Do you need an excuse to unplug and reconnect with nature? Experience, Explore, & Enjoy the nature of Funks Grove at these three Nature Camps designed for adults wanting to remember what it feels like to be a child without all the distractions of everyday life.  Each day will be filled with learning, hikes, activities, and, of course, a craft and snack!  See topics per date below:
Creek Discovery CANCELED
Tuesday, June 14, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Bring your water shoes and be ready to get wet!  We’ll spend time in the creek collecting macroinvertebrates and learning about mussels.  RiverWatch leader, Debbie Fluegel, will immerse you in the wonder of aquatic wildlife.  Investigate through a microscope, learn about water quality, and explore Illinois’ amazing underwater diversity.
 Bird Bonanza
Wednesday, July 12, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Members of the John Wesley Powell Audubon Society will be here to share their passion for the feathered inhabitants of Funks Grove.  Learn about the diversity of birds that nest here, how to use binoculars and a field guide, and about other local hot-spots to view birds.  We’ll hike to the heron rookery, visit with dicksissels, and ogle over orioles!
 Nature Camp at NIGHT!
Tuesday, August 9, 6:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.
Enjoy dinner followed by evening activities and excursions to learn about the bugs, bats, and bizarre beings that come alive after the sun sets!  Then, the Twin City Amateur Astronomers will wow you with a tour of their observatories and some night sky viewing.
Fee: $30/session members, $40/session non-members. 
Registration and prepayment required one week prior to start date.