Discovery Center marks 10 years with urban wildlife

When Kelvin Haynes heard that the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center was marking its 10th anniversary, he knew he had to take his daughter.

“I feel like I’ve been missing out,” Haynes, of Lee’s Summit, said Saturday. “This is my first time here and it won’t be the last.”

“It was awesome,” said daughter Daecia Uzomah, 10.

They and other families gathered Saturday to celebrate nature and the anniversary of the Missouri Department of Conservation center at 4750 Troost Ave.

The rain garden caught Daecia’s attention.

“I liked the colorful flowers and plants,” she said, “and the leaves that had fragrance or smell.”

In one of the classrooms, sisters Rose Loyall and Ashley Loyall of Sugar Creek tacked screens on the bottom of wooden frames to make bird feeders while Ashley Loyall’s three daughters — Lilli, 7, Jamie, 5, and Baylee, 3 — milled around the room.

At one of the stations, the girls made fireflies out of plastic water bottles and glow sticks. Lilli named hers “Blinker.” Since the center’s dedication in 2002, thousands of visitors have walked the garden trails and attended nature presentations in the center’s classrooms.

The center is named after Gorman, a Kansas City civic leader and former member of the Missouri Conservation Commission. She helped raise private funds for half the $8 million construction costs.

“In general, most nature center-type things are a little farther out,” said Stacey Davis, manager of Discovery Center.

“Being right here smack in the middle of town, we are able to reach to the audiences that are very urban.”

The center allows people to learn about the types of wildlife and native plants that live in the city.

Davis said many people assume they have to go out in the country to see nature.

“One of the big messages we put out there,” she said, “is that there is a lot of nature right in your own backyard.”