Educational Exhibit Hall
The Stevens Nature Center's exhibit hall is at the heart of the educational mission of Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve. As envisioned by benefactor Colonel William Walton Stevens, it provides visitors with a range of exhibits and interactive tools that complement and enrich outdoor explorations of the preserve. In the nature center, patrons are able to interact with preserve staff, ask questions, view the exhibits, watch video and PowerPoint presentations about native flora and fauna, and learn about our extensive and diverse schedule of year-round nature programs for all ages.
Specific goals of the nature center's exhibits are:
- To be site-specific and to convey the uniqueness of Hemlock Bluffs
- To orient visitors to the ecosystems, topography, park amenities, and wildlife at Hemlock Bluffs
- To illuminate the character and history of the bluffs and its Eastern Hemlock trees
- To give visitors a sense of place in the global environment and global community
- To provide resources that enable citizens to preserve and protect the environment in their daily lives
As visitors enter they encounter the essence of the bluffs through full color, large scale nature photography incorporated into multiple layers of architectural space. Wall-sized photos, ceiling banners, and an illuminated photo mural wall give visitors a glimpse of the preserve while inviting them in to explore further.
Some visitors tour the exhibits before embarking on their walks, in order to learn about the plants, wildlife, and ecosystems they will encounter on the trails. Others visit the nature center after their explorations to find answers to their questions in the exhibits, in conversations with preserve staff, in the video presentations, and in the many education brochures that are available.
Visitors who have limited mobility can still experience the character of Hemlock Bluffs through exhibits and media that convey the beauty and ecological importance of this unique natural resource.
Children are engaged by specially designed interactive exhibits including the Track Table and Swift Creek Magnet Mural. Especially attractive to children are the taxidermy dioramas that feature native wildlife species, including the Barred Owl, Gray Fox, White-tailed Deer, Copperhead, and Flying Squirrel.
Classroom and Outdoor Education Shelter
The classroom and education shelter associated with the Stevens Nature Center are used for the programs, camps and classes conducted by nature center staff. The classroom is a gateway for the learning experiences offered at the Stevens Nature Center. We offer a variety of science and art classes, exploring everything from bugs and amphibians to wildflowers and trees, for toddlers, teens, adults, and seniors.
Learn more about the programs of the Stevens Nature Center.
The classroom and shelter are not available for outside functions or rentals. If you are looking for a facility to rent, please consider other gathering places in the Town of Cary.
Located in the nature center courtyard are several large beds featuring native plants. These beds are designed to have a bloom season that lasts from early spring until late fall. The plants are hardy, drought-tolerant and typically wildlife friendly. Thus, they are beautiful and serve wildlife in some way, either by providing nectar, seeds or cover.
During your visit you may see birds, butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and a variety of insects in the gardens. The longer you stay and observe, the more you'll see.
The Children’s Garden, located beside our classroom, features projects completed in craft and nature programs here at Hemlock Bluffs. This garden serves as an example of garden crafts and activities you can complete with your child to encourage growth of native plants and provide habitat and food sources for native wildlife species. Feel free to take a stroll through our Children’s Garden, or take a minute to observe wildlife.
Recycled Art Garden
The Recycled Art Garden, which is located to the left of our trailhead, demonstrates ways you can use everyday items to create your own beautiful container garden. By recycling everyday items you can create stylish and unique container gardens to showcase your creativity. Items considered “useless” or broken can bring a whimsical element to your landscape.