As a community favorite gets creative during COVID-19, your family gets the opportunity to have a private tour of Anita Purves Nature Center … for FREE!
This hands-on experience for just your household group will be a highlight for your kids, as they get to visit an old favorite
It was big news the day this news hit our feeds: Anita Purves Nature Center in Urbana has come up with a unique and special way to (quite safely) open their doors to the public again and give families an educational and enjoyable experience at their facility. And we are quite grateful!
Schedule Ahead of Time
You cannot just show up and have a tour anytime under current guidelines. The Anita Purves Nature Center is making sure that just one family unit at a time is in the building, and this held true on our visit. The only individuals we saw were Anita Purves staff, and our interaction was limited to just one staff member. You need to schedule your FREE tour at least two days in advance by calling ahead at (217) 384-4062. Tours are available during the daytime, Monday through Saturday.
Guests will be asked to fill out paperwork, including a waiver and contact info in case contact tracing is needed following your visit. This can be done ahead of time or during your actual visit.
The doors may be locked when you arrive (as they limit the number of people going in and out to those that have a reservation or are making a delivery, for example). Call the number posted on the door to be let in. Face masks are required for your entire visit.
You’ll be asked to turn in your forms, if you filled them out ahead of time, or take a moment to complete them on the spot. Every single person’s temperature will be taken in the entry area. After everyone has used hand sanitizer, you’ll follow your guide to the field station to begin your experience.
Your Time in the Field Station
Anita Purves describes the visit as “an exclusive hour-long visit to the nature center’s Field Station exhibit hall.” The Field Station has been significantly reworked during the nature center’s closure for COVID-19. You’ll see a number of exhibits and yes, your kids can touch them, as this is a hands-on (really!) time.
Your guide will likely be sitting distanced from you outside the room while you explore the area. They will be noting the exhibits your kids touch, and there are areas to place other things you’ve touched (like crayons/coloring/crafting items).
Our kids loved magnifying objects and there were TONS of things for them to look at or put on the screen.
They’ve taken great care to make as much available as possible for your kids. They have even laminated feathers so they can be wiped down between visits and preserved to check out individually. So fun for budding scientists!
Near the end of our time in the Field Station, our guide asked if we would like her to bring out a snake as we prepared to leave. From a safe distance, the snake was held up as our kids asked questions and had conversations about it. It was a fantastic conclusion to our visit.
Wildlife Observation Room
We were able to take some time in the Wildlife Observation Room on our visit, too. Again, we were still the only family in the building and within our one hour visit window as we watched the birds and squirrels comfortably. They turned the speaker on, too, so we could sit and hear the sound piped in from outside. Our kids remarked how the room’s binoculars were put away (we parents hadn’t even noticed their absence) so bring your own if you plan to do some bird watching.
This is truly a welcome addition to the short (but growing) list of activities we can do with our family during COVID-19. You can visit Anita Purves at their website here or on Facebook. Anita Purves Nature Center is an Urbana Park District facility.