Anita Purves Nature Center
1505 N. Broadway, Urbana, IL 61801
Get directions here
Telephone: (217) 384-4062
M-F 8 to 5, Sat 9 to 4
Fly Your Family Flag at Strawberry Jam on June 14. Click here for instructions.
Located at the north end of Crystal Lake Park, the Anita Purves Nature Center is an environmental education facility open free to the public. Next door you'll find Busey Woods, a 59-acre forest preserve with a boardwalk loop, seasonal ponds and more.
The Nature Center is on the MTD Gold bus line on weekdays and the Silver bus line on Saturdays.
Bring your students to the nature center, or have a traveling naturalist come to you! The Anita Purves Nature Center offers a variety of environmental education programs and services to area educators. Programs complement local school district curricula and are Illinois Learning Standards-based. Home school groups are also invited to use these services. Welcome your students to the world of nature with the following programs.
School Tours at Busey Woods and Meadowbrook Prairie are offered in fall, winter, and spring as seasonal program topics. Ranging in length from 1.25-2 hours, each is designed for a specific age group or grade level from Pre-K to 5th grade. Activities include observation, hands-on investigation, exploration, games, and/or data collection appropriate to the students’ ages. Research shows that children who spend time outdoors have better concentration indoors.
Naturalist in the Classroom programs are available throughout the school year. A naturalist will visit your classroom to present a program. A wide variety of topics are available for Pre-K through 5th grades. The program may include a visit with one of the Nature Center’s resident wildlife.
Recently revised and updated, Educational Loan Kits are self-contained teaching units available to area educators. Available in a wide variety of topics, they are designed to supplement classroom activities and contain activity guides, natural history specimens, tools, and props for both indoor and outdoor activities. The Nature Center is also a lending center for several Illinois Department of Natural Resources Loan Trunks. Download the Educational Loan Kits Flier.
For more information about programs and services, please call 384-4062. And don't miss the Audubon Nature Shop located inside.
What’s Inside the Anita Purves Nature Center?
Discover the natural history of Illinois, its landscape, native animals and plants and ecosystems. Interactive and hands-on displays—including a working beehive and live education animals—showcase the diversity of Illinois and the local area.
Wildlife Observation Room
No matter the weather, you can watch the birds congregate at the feeders outside the Nature Center or curl up with a book. Nature Center Hours
The Nature Center’s multipurpose rooms are ideal for educational programs, parties or group retreats. Rooms feature views of the prairie garden and close proximity to Busey Woods. Available rooms seat between 25 and 75 people and include counter space and sinks. VCR/DVD, monitor, easels, and LCD available for additional fee. To request rental information, call 384-4062.
Jun-Aug weekdays 7–11pm
Jun-Aug weekends 8am–11pm
Audubon Nature Shop
Looking for a unique nature-related gift? This shop has a wide range of carefully-selected items including: bird feeders, binoculars, books for all ages, party favors and puppets. Operated by the Champaign County Audubon Society, this nonprofit shop donates all proceeds to local environmental education or conservation projects. Audubon members get a 10% discount on purchases. Visa, MasterCard and Discover accepted. M-Sa 9am–4pm
Educator Resource Room
Be sure to visit the Resource Room if you are seeking ideas for lessons, programs, activities, or need help identifying a bird, flower or tree. Devoted to assisting people who educate others about the outdoors, the Resource Room contains many reference guides, curriculum materials and videos. All items may be borrowed with a deposit. A wide variety of Educational Loan Boxes are available for a small fee. Call 384-4062 for availability, or just stop by and have a look. M-Sa 9am–4pm
What's Outside the Anita Purves Nature Center?
Busey Friendship Grove & Edith Ingle Wildflower Garden
The Busey Friendship Grove is located directly east of the Anita Purves Nature Center and had its origins in the autumn of 1993. Anchored by solitary old growth oaks, this northernmost section of the Crystal Lake Park campus was targeted as an excellent opportunity to restore the feel of the prairie savanna type of ecosystem that would have naturally extended beyond the pre-settlement boundaries of the Big Grove. Toward this end an ambitious tree-planting program was undertaken on the ground that had previously housed a seldom-used practice baseball diamond. Busey Bank, celebrating its 125 year anniversary, was the principal donor for the initial planting of 50+ trees and progress can still be seen today as generous organizations and individuals continue to donate trees that complement the growing mix of oaks, hickories and redbuds. In 1998 the hillside and park edge along Country Club and Broadway roads was planted in prairie as the Edith Ingle Wildflower Garden.
The Busey Friendship Grove is actively used as an outdoor environmental education space by the district environmental staff. School, day camp and public programs and various nature center group visits utilize the grove for insect, seed and other nature exploration. It is also the primary meeting space for the summer nature day camp program. Old growth and maturing trees provide shade for small and large group activities and visitor picnicking. Nature play area, picnic tables and park benches are available.
Gillies Grove Campfire Area
Located just outside the nature center, the Gillies Grove Campfire area is utilized as a gathering site for center programs, local scout groups and the general public. A designated campfire spot with benches and picnic tables makes this a favorite for roasting marshmallows and telling stories. This space may be reserved, please call 384-4062 for availability and rental rates.
Adopt an Animal
The Urbana Park District houses animals that are native to Illinois in its field station. Most were found in the wild but have injuries that now prevent their re-release. These animals are used for eudcation programs throughout the community.
When you adopt one of these animals, you provide for their care--including medical care--and food. Adoptions can be made for one month, six months or one year. Call 384-4062 to learn more.
Accessible Areas · Drinking Fountains · Natural Areas · Open Fields · Parking · Paths · Rentals · Restrooms · Sitting Areas · Trails · Water Features
- Outdoor Little School Testimonial (MP4 video file)
- Animal Adoption Brochure
- 2014 Meadowbrook Gardening Manual
- Timberdoodling Quest Booklet
- 2014 Garden Manual Supplement
- Art in the Park Quest Clue Booklet
- 2014 Naturalist in the Classroom Reservation Form
- 2014 School Tour Reservation Form
- I Speak for the Trees Bingo Sheet
- Fitness Class Chart
- Let's GO! Quest Booklet
- Wild About Parks Quest Booklet 2014