For the past four decades, Nature’s Classroom has been educating middle school students, mostly sixth grade, about the Hillsborough River watershed, the role it plays in their lives, and how important it is to preserve the natural world.
To continue to keep the tradition going area residents are invited to attend the Nature’s Classroom Annual Woods, Water and Wildlife open house scheduled Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
According to Event Coordinator Chris Rusnak, the event will allow the general public to visit the school normally reserved for the environmental education of all sixth grade public school students in Hillsborough County.
The event will feature nature art displays, live music, children’s activities, animal handling, food and a variety of environmentally focused exhibits and events. Visitors may tour the animal compound and native plant garden.
“Past visitors of our open house have enjoyed all of our various exhibits, activities and entertainment,” Rusnak said. “Since we have served the community for so long, many just enjoy having another chance to see Nature’s Classroom after having had a positive experience when they attended the program years ago.”
For many, a visit to the facility has also been seen as an inexpensive weekend trip for a large family that is accessible for anyone in the community.
Natures Classroom specifically focuses on the common ecosystems, plants and animals that are found in the area and how they provide the resources needed.
Rusnak mentioned that last year, Nature’s Classroom had approximately 4,000 people in attendance a number that has been steadily growing in the last four years.
“It is also our goal to foster a better understanding of the natural world so that we can have a highly educated voter base to make smart decisions for the future of our state, country and world,” Rusnak said.
While serving the entire sixth grade public as well as many private and home schooled students in Hillsborough County, the classroom will see around 15,000 students this year.
There is a $5 entry donation per vehicle. Nature’s Classroom is located at 13100 Verges Rd. in Thonotosassa, just 1.5 miles east of I-75 of the Fletcher Ave. Exit.
For more information, please call 987-6969.

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Marie Gilmore
Marie is the Managing Editor at the Osprey Observer. She covers news, transportation, education and likes to make a positive impact on the community and be 'in the know'!