The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center (DPNC), on Pequotsepos Rd, in Mystic, is a wonderful place to visit and I encourage you to visit in slow-motion. That’s right, slow-motion. It’s just the sort of place where you want to take your time, talk to the staff, spend time in the museum section and with the animal inhabitants, and soak up all that nature has to offer. The object isn’t to whiz through the grounds so you can check it off your vacation to-do list. The object is to take time to look at everything in the museum space inside, as well as the wildlife and natural world that is outside.
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The DPNC isn’t your typical hometown nature center because it offers so much more to its guests. There truly is something for everyone in this 400-acre sanctuary, and if you live locally and haven’t been there in quite a while, you must seriously consider taking an updated look at this community treasure, and of course for tourists, the entire thing will be a totally new experience for you.
- “Two Locations, One Great Place”: This is the tagline for a great connection between the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center and the Coogan Farm. That’s right, visitors can take an approximately one-mile walk through the woods, starting at the DPNC and ending up at the 45-acre Coogan Farm. Coogan Farm educates visitors about the different historical and cultural ways the land has been used. It grows a huge garden called the “Giving Garden”, houses a Welcome Center, a farmhouse, and a store. The “Giving Garden” and all its produce is donated to the Gemma Moran Center which provides food to those who are in need.
- Nature Preschool: The DPNC runs a nature preschool for 3- 5 year old children from September to June. Can you think of a better way for children to grow and learn than being immersed in the beauty of creation? The school is based on the principles of the Montessori method. Their brochure says it best: “Our preschool aims to foster the growth of whole, well-rounded, happy children, and to inspire an appreciation for the natural world and a lifetime environmental ethic.” For more info on the preschool call 860-536-2856.
- Local Veterinary care: The DPNC uses the services of local veterinarians to provide medical care for their on-grounds animals, so the animals are very well cared for.
- Animal Rehabilitation: The DPNC doesn’t just house animals to educate people, but they also rehabilitate sick animals and birds of prey. The beautiful birds housed on grounds were once rescued but were unable to be released again into the wild for various reasons, so the DPNC becomes their new home, and they are called “bird ambassadors”. They have some great owls on the premises.
- Stress-Reduction: Visiting the DPNC is a great place to reduce your stress. Being in the quiet of nature, listening to the hum of life in the forest, hiking, taking photos, searching for bluebirds or wildlife in the pond, looking into the peaceful eyes of the owls, spending quality time with your family away from technology, enjoying a picnic lunch, or just sitting somewhere quiet, can help lower your stress level. They even have a butterfly garden on site.
- Programs for all ages: The DPNC offers summer camp programs for children and special programs for adults like basket making. They offer programs in insect catching, mystery hikes, full moon walks, family crabbing, science-based activities, slide shows, and field trips.
- Volunteer Opportunities: There are numerous interesting ways in which people, young and forever-young, can volunteer. Do you like to care for birds of prey, reptiles or amphibians? Perhaps you are great with children and would like to volunteer for their summer camp programs or become a classroom assistant. If gardening is your passion, then the Giving Garden at Coogan Farm needs your help. If you are handy then perhaps you’d want to volunteer your time helping to maintain the up to ten miles of trails or keep up the buildings and grounds. If you are someone who enjoys office work or helping with special events and fundraisers, well then, look no more – your volunteer dreams have come true.