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Inside and out

Tallgrass Creek neighbors enjoy nature’s beauty

Created date

March 21st, 2016
Nature Club members Dennis McCurdy and Lila Martin

Nature Club members Dennis McCurdy and Lila Martin

It makes little difference to Tallgrass Creek’s Nature Club whether the weather is wintry or warm. The group plans interesting activities and field trips all year round that highlight the beauty and wonder of nature. 

An end-of-year jaunt to Squaw Creek National Wildlife Preserve located 100 miles north of Tallgrass Creek’s home in Overland Park, Kans., was a particular treat. The 7,350-acre refuge is a resting, feeding, and breeding ground for migratory birds.   

“The day we were there, thousands of Canada geese came through,” says resident Karin Winn, the Nature Club’s new president. “There were geese horizon to horizon. It was magical.” 

Environmentally conscious residents such as Elna Ponto started the Nature Club several years ago. 

In addition to planning field trips, the group sponsors outside speakers who discuss conservation, climate change, local ecosystems, composting, and other nature-oriented topics.  The club meets the first Tuesday of each month in the community’s Sunflower Room. 

Nearby nature

During the past year, Nature Club members have visited the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens just up the road from Tallgrass Creek; the Lakeside Nature Club, a wildlife rehabilitative center in Swope Park; the Jerry Smith Park, which has the largest remaining tract of uncultivated natural prairie within the city limits of Kansas City, Mo.; and the Long Lips Butterfly Garden in Paola, Kans. 

Field trip participants enjoy a safe, comfortable ride to all destinations with Tallgrass Creek’s transportation shuttle.  

The group also enjoys exploring the community’s 65-acre campus recognized in 2013 by the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. The campus attracts squirrels, rabbits, coyotes, deer, and more than 40 varieties of birds. To be certified, Tallgrass Creek’s campus provides four essential elements for wildlife: food, water, cover, and places to raise young. 

“We are so fortunate here,” says resident Ruth West, former president of the Nature Club. 

“Even though Tallgrass Creek is located in a major urban area, our campus includes wonderful natural beauty and wildlife all around us. That is unusual to find in the middle of a city.” 

Indoor beauty

Nature Club member Lila Martin uses her considerable computer skills to create impressive  30-minute PowerPoint presentations that feature seasonal outdoor scenes at Tallgrass Creek. Lila’s videos appear frequently on the community’s television channel and highlight not only the peacefulness of snowy days but also native grasses and wildflowers on the property throughout spring, summer, and fall.  

Lila’s presentations include the club’s trips to Squaw Creek as well as a lovely photograph of the Kansas City Symphony performing in the beautiful Flint Hills, a band of panoramic hills located in Southeast Kansas. 

Lila is also well known for her unique calendars featuring different scenic areas around Tallgrass Creek’s campus each month. She has created the calendars each year since 2009. 

“People are interested in seeing the natural beauty around the campus as it changes every season,” says Lila. 

Saturday night nature

Resident Dennis McCurdy is another club member who enjoys educating his neighbors about the unique facets of nature. On the second Saturday evening of each month, Dennis hosts a nature night in the community’s living room where he shows one-hour nature-oriented DVDs. 

He has sponsored the Saturday evening gatherings since he and wife Carol moved to the community in 2008 and obtains the DVDs from the library, other residents, or Netflix. 

Residents have learned about the unique habits of bears, turkeys, whales, deer, and other wildlife as well as planets, volcanoes, national parks, unusual living environments, and much more. 

“We usually have about 75 people who attend these sessions,” says Dennis, a retired veterinarian and pharmaceutical researcher for veterinarian products. “People really respond to these videos and the information they contain. Everyone learns something they didn’t know.”  

Upcoming trips

The Nature Club kicked off the year with several great field trip suggestions. Plans are in the works to visit more nature centers, bird-watching sites, prairie grass conservation areas, butterfly gardens, and possibly a buffalo ranch. The group also plans to continue informing, educating, and sharing nature in all its various forms with Tallgrass Creek neighbors. 

“We are blessed to live in an area where natural beauty is right outside our door,” says Lila. “It’s a joy to share it.”