In 1966 the City of Olathe purchased the 116-acre Ernie Miller Nature Centre and Park. The Park is named after Ernest Miller, who was affectionately known as ‘Mr. Olathe’ as his family was among some of the earliest settlers who arrived in Olathe, Kansas in covered wagons in 1855. He was a merchant who became a civic leader, a real estate broker, and a columnist and editor of the Olathe Mirror.
The Park is open from dawn to dusk and offers three miles of hiking trails. The Nature Centre is open during limited hours from Tuesdays to Sundays from November to February. Although admission to the park is free, fees are charged for certain activities. It features an outdoor amphitheater, a bird feeder court with hummingbird and butterfly gardens, a large stream aquarium, and interesting exhibits with live amphibians, snakes, and turtles.
There are also several display cages with live birds of prey such as the great horned owl the red tail hawk. During various seasons of the year, more than 170 bird species can be seen that include osprey, two species of falcon, and eight species of hawk. There is a comfortable indoor spot from where wild birds can be watched as they visit the bird feeders. A microphone brings the bird sounds inside and there are handy bird guides to help identify the different bird species.
There are also several meeting rooms and grounds available for rent suitable for gatherings such as corporate events, weddings, birthdays, and graduations.
Events for Children
Events and educational programmes are available throughout the year offering school field trip guides. Knowledgeable staff members present a variety of fun programs and outdoor discovery camps for all ages. Fun summer camps with live animal programs, nature crafts, environmental games, nature hikes, educational programs and weekly guest speakers at a fun field trip are just some of the things that can be enjoyed. Children eight years and older can test their skills and safety by using archery equipment and bb guns. With swimming, fishing and boating on offer children never stop exploring at summer camps held at Ernie Miller Park.
Outdoor discovery camps include interesting themes such as ‘Beatles, Bugs and Bones’, ‘Pathfinders’, ‘Symphony of the Senses’, ‘Rings and Rattles’, ‘Secret Lives of Mammals’, and ‘Camp Traditions’ to name a few. Children from 6 years can also register for Nature & Science specialty Outdoor Camps during the summer vacation.
Volunteers are invited to help deliver environmental programs, staff the nature center, and to conduct nature walks, and much more. No special expertise is required as they offer training
Birthday parties with the animals are held at the Nature Center with four themes to choose from: Snake Celebration, Birthday Safari, Enchanted Forest or Magical Party.
A visit to Ernie Miller Park and Nature Center offers something interesting for the whole family to enjoy.