Five Ways To Enjoy Nature in Kansas City

1. Visit a Nature Center

Kansas City is home to several nature centers as well as the Kansas City Zoo. Nature centers are great for a family-friendly outing, and they are so educational! Some of the nature centers offer free programs or affordable children’s passes, and the Lakeside Nature Center is free. Going to nature centers is a great way to learn about local wildlife and ecology. Nature centers are also great resources to learn about sustainability. As the threat of climate change looms, we should learn more about what we can do to make the planet greener.

2. Take Pictures

Even in urban areas, there can be a lot of natural beauty to observe. It can be fun to snap photos and identify trees, other plants, or wildlife in your area. Bird watching is also a great activity in cities. Parks are an easy and accessible place to spot birds and other wildlife. You can also set up a bird feeder in your yard. Feeding the birds helps local wildlife thrive. Hummingbird feeders are a fun addition to any yard or deck, especially if you have kids. You may be surprised how many types of birds you can photograph, even from your own window! You can also frame your favorite pictures and display them on your wall.

3. Volunteer for a Cleanup Project

Kansas City is full of beautiful parks, rivers, and lakes, but unfortunately litter still ends up on the ground. In an effort to keep nature beautiful and clean, try volunteering for a park cleanup. Not only is it a great way to help care for KC and the Earth, it’s also an opportunity to meet others in your community. It is much easier to make a difference when we work together!

4. Take Advantage of Community Gardens

Even if you don’t have your own garden, you can rent a plot in a community garden. Gardening is a fun hobby where you’ll learn a lot about nature. Try learning about native plants so you can add them to your plot. Native plants will usually fare better than invasive species because they evolved for the local conditions. You can also try growing vegetables such as beans, tomatoes, or peppers. After your hard work, you can harvest them and make a healthy meal from your own locally grown produce. Community gardens are a great way to get to know your neighbors too. If you have extra vegetables, share them! Your fellow gardeners may share with you as well.

5. Compost

Whether you garden in your own backyard or in a community garden, compost will be great for the soil. It all starts in your kitchen, and compost is an easy way to turn food waste into something useful. There are several ways to compost, but cold composting may be easier for beginners. You can put a small compost bin on your counter or put a larger one outside. Add veggie scraps, cardboard, eggshells, and coffee grounds. In an outdoor bin, you can also add lawn trimmings or raked leaves. Compost takes time, but it’s a great way to reduce food scraps in landfills.

I hope you try one of these tips so we can all keep Kansas City—and the world— green and beautiful. Remember, you can always put on your shoes and just go for a stroll or a hike as well. Thanks for reading!

~ Scott Asner, wannabe musician and Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.

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