Jefferson City Programs and Activities

Runge Conservation Nature Center

Runge Conservation Nature Center (CNC), located in the heart of central Missouri on 112 acres, is managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation. The center provides programs and other opportunities for visitors to view, learn about, and appreciate the variety of habitats, plants, and animals found in Missouri.

Five hiking trails loop through woodlands, prairies, glades, and next to ponds and a beautiful wet-weather stream. The five trails total 2.4 miles, and three trails are hard-surfaced while two have a wood chipped surface. A fire tower offers great views of our restored prairie and savanna.

The nature center features exhibits with live animals, a large fish aquarium, a wildlife viewing area, a nature library, and a gift shop.

Find out more about the nature center, including directions, maps, and building hours.

Runge CNC

What to Expect at the Nature Center
  • Please arrive 10 minutes before your scheduled program. Late arrivals will shorten your program time.
  • Let us know in advance if anyone in your group needs special accommodations.
  • Some programs include an outdoor component. In case of inclement weather, an indoor program may be substituted. If Jefferson City Schools are closed due to weather, all programs will be canceled.
  • Please ensure students wear closed-toe, sturdy footwear and weather-appropriate clothing.
  • An outdoor pavilion is available for lunch on a first-come, first-served basis. The area is equipped with restrooms, water fountains, and trash cans.
Scheduling a Program

The nature center offers a variety of free, naturalist-led programs for visitors of all ages. Each program incorporates hands-on learning, and many are aligned with the Missouri Learning Standards. All programs are designed specifically to enhance science-based subjects, but many are cross-curricular.

For more information, call 573-526-5544, or email To schedule a free program, email


In-Person Programs

All Ages

Naturalist Pick

Can’t decide what topic you’d like to explore? Let the Runge staff pick one for you.

Grades Pre-K–4

Animal Wrappers

Fur, feathers, scales, and slime cover the skin of different types of animals and are important in helping them survive in the wild.  These special coverings also help biologists classify wild animals into groups. Explore the differences among animal "wrappers" with live animals and a variety of props in this program. 

Grades Pre-K–5

Sensory Exploration

Discover nature using your five senses during this interactive nature hike.

Grades Pre-K–8


Frogs and other amphibians need water to start their life. We will use live animals and a variety of props to discuss the characteristics and life cycle of amphibians. Call to discuss the opportunity to add a pond exploration.


We will use live animals, props, and demonstrations to help students discover what characteristics make reptiles different from other animals and each other.

Grades K–6

Food Chains

Starting with the sun, all living organisms are linked together. Various props, activities, and a live animal will help students explore the elements of food chains and the larger web of life.

Grades K–8


These elusive nocturnal creatures are fascinating predators. We will use props and demonstrations to help students discover the adaptations that allow owls to succeed.


Mammals can be found living in many places, including some unusual habitats. Discover what Missouri mammals live in the air, water, and underground. We will use props, mounts, and demonstrations to help students learn what adaptations allow mammals to be successful.


Predators aren’t mean or vicious — they’re just trying to survive. Students will be introduced to common adaptations of predators through props, demonstrations, and a live animal.

Grades 4–12

Outdoor Skills

Outdoor skills improve mind and body connections, teach skills students can use for a lifetime, and offer new ways students can connect with nature and benefit from being outdoors. Call to request a certain skill or discuss which skill might be best for your students. Options may include archery, atlatl, slingshots, fishing, bird/plant/tree identification, or shelter building. Outdoor skills requests will be dependent on student ages, group size, and staff availability.

Site Visits: We Come to You

A naturalist can bring any of the in-person programs listed to your site with the exception of two programs, Sensory Exploration and Outdoor Skills.