Everyone deserves to be able to get outside and play. MNHC strives to connect ALL people with nature, creating programs and spaces that welcome everyone. And so we’re particularly thrilled to be the recipient of a $20,000 grant from the Missoula Kiwanis Club, giving us the opportunity to make our on-site Nature Adventure Garden accessible to children with disabilities. The garden is a 2.5-acre play space open to the public and specifically designed for creative, outdoor play. Right next to the river trail, it’s a perfect spot for families to take a break, relax in the shade, and play in nature.

Thanks to the grant, we’ve added a wide, accessible trail – made of crushed granite – that wanders through the garden; a sensory garden featuring native plants that engage the senses of smell and touch; and, later this summer, a welcoming entrance arch just off the river trail encouraging families to step inside, play, and explore.

Karen Orzech, Chair of the Signature Project Committee charged with vetting applications, is excited about the project, too: “Our Missoula Kiwanis Club received 24 applications for this $20,000 grant. It was exciting for us to discover the ideas of the many deserving organizations in Missoula. All the projects were worthy of an award! The committee’s unanimous choice was the Montana Natural History Center. We are thrilled with their creative and original approach to fun with education, the Nature Adventure Garden. We are so pleased to partner with them, to better serve our children.”

The Nature Adventure Garden is open year-round and is used by groups, schools, and families who visit MNHC for exploration and programming but is also frequented by neighborhood families and trail-users. The garden complements the public-play areas in the heart of Missoula with a space that is more natural and wild. The garden offers hills and rocks to climb on instead of traditional play equipment and it is full of loose parts—stumps, logs, and sticks—which allow kids to creatively change the environment and create new experiences every time they visit.

Stop by and enjoy the additions to this sweet community space!