By Meghan E. Gattignolo
Not quite three years old yet, the Wade Bourne Nature Center opened its doors at Rotary Park in October 2020. Dedicated to outdoor enthusiast, writer and Clarksville-native Wade Bourne who passed away in 2016, the center is a wholesome treasure. Managed by Montgomery County Parks and Recreation, the Wade Bourne Nature Center provides locals with a wealth of nature programming, interpretation and fun family experiences.
One of the best features of the Wade Bourne Nature Center is the long observation deck facing the tree line. With a wide viewing area and comfortable benches, the deck is an optimal place for birdwatching, as well as observing other great natural sights. The center provides sets of high-quality binoculars donated by the Nature Center Foundation that you can check out at the visitor desk for all your nature-observing pursuits. Keep an eye out for occasional offerings of birdwatching programs as well.
Learn with Programs
Practice mindfulness in nature with some forest bathing (the Japanese art of shinrin-yoku, or taking in the forest through our senses), or bring your little ones to work on their animal classifications with a We Grow Wednesdays activity. The nature center also boasts opportunities to volunteer in the community garden, and once a month Reading Roundups. Look here to find all the activities you and your family can enjoy together this summer. Some events require prior sign-ups, so be sure to check out the Montgomery County Parks and Rec website first.
Learning is more fun when you get to touch! Stations with interactive screens and audio narration teach adults and kids alike about the nearby animals, plants and the natural phenomena that surround the center. The adorable kid’s corner provides a space for little ones to touch and experience nature in an accessible way. Parents can also snuggle and read with their toddlers while getting the most out of a visit to the nature center.
If you haven’t met the tree frogs Merle and Waylon, or Flash the green anole yet, make sure you stop and say hello. Getting to know these animals sparks curiosity in kids and leads to excitement in visiting the center more regularly. In addition to these little guys, occasionally the center hosts temporary animal guests, like a tarantula, snakes and a skink. Follow Montgomery County Parks and Rec on Facebook to stay updated on future animal visits.
The nature center has been working hard on the latest project: a 550-gallon aquarium tank to house native fish species. The tank has been installed and it won’t be long before live fish will greet you on your next visit to the center.
Art Meets Nature
In its young life, the Wade Bourne Nature Center already has a reputation for exhibiting beautiful nature-themed works of art. Our Curator of Exhibits Terri Jordan had the honor of being the first artist exhibited at the center with a stunning collection of works inspired by her own visits to Rotary Park. Last month, Kitty Harvill, ahead of her exhibit at the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center, also enjoyed a showing of even more of her colorful paintings at the exhibit space at Wade Bourne. The center is now looking to fill its space with fresh art centered around natural themes. Artists wanting to exhibit can apply to get on next year’s schedule.
Take time out of your busy schedule to enjoy and learn about nature by yourself or with your family. The Wade Bourne Nature Center is open every Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 5pm and Saturdays from 10am to 3pm.
Meghan E. Gattignolo is a freelance writer and longtime Clarksville, TN resident. She loves to obsess about historical subjects and annoy her family daily with unsolicited random facts. Meghan holds a History B.A. from Austin Peay State University and lives in town with her husband and two daughters.