The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes
ABOUT top slider
THE NATURE CENTER AT SHAKER LAKES
ABOUT US

Serving the community as a conserved green space, we connect visitors with nature and inspire environmental stewardship in thousands of adults and children each year through engaging and educational programs.

Serving the community as a conserved green space, we connect visitors with nature and inspire environmental stewardship in thousands of adults and children each year through engaging and educational programs.

Serving the community as a conserved green space, we connect visitors with nature and inspire environmental stewardship in thousands of adults and children each year through engaging and educational programs.

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ABOUT PAGE 2nd SLIDER - INTRO
CONSERVE. CONNECT. INSPIRE.

THE NATURE CENTER

For events both big and small, the Nature Center offers indoor and outdoor spaces to accommodate all types of events and party sizes. From formal business meetings to fun birthday parties, intimate memorial services to congratulatory graduation parties and beyond.

Our story is one that is rich with history. A small but mighty Nature Center, we were founded in 1966 to prevent a highway from destroying this treasured green space. Since, we've worked to educate the next generation of 'Freeway Fighters' about the environment and provide a free space for people to deepen their connection to nature.

OUR MISSION

The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes conserves a natural area, connects people with nature and inspires environmental stewardship.

DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION

It is our goal to make sure that we provide a safe, welcoming, and inclusive outdoor space so that all people can connect with nature on their own terms.
Read our statement.

OUR VISION

The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes will be recognized as a model urban environmental resource that welcomes all and enriches people's lives through education, innovative programs and community involvement.

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The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes
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FOUNDED IN 1966
HOW A COMMUNITY BROUGHT US TOGETHER

The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes is a 501(c)(3) that was founded in 1966 as the result of a grassroots community effort to preserve the Shaker Parklands from becoming the route for a new freeway connecting Cleveland's Eastside to downtown.

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OUR HISTORY

THE EARLY DAYS

The Shaker Parklands

The parklands had been designated in the late 19th century as a natural green space, set aside by the city of Cleveland for the benefit of its fast growing population. Citizens used the park as an escape to the "country" as the industrial city pushed eastward and as the land that had been farmed by the North Union Shaker community began to be transformed into the new suburban communities of the Heights.

The Freeway Fight

OUR BEGINNING

Grassroots efforts prevented our space from becoming a highway

That quiet park setting that our community loved was threatened in the mid-1960s by the proposed Clark-Lee freeway, which would have cut through the Shaker Lakes section of the parklands. Members of the community came together to fight the freeway through a number of strategies, including the establishment of a Nature Center.

The Nature Center

SINCE 1966

The freeway fight was won

That bipartisan community effort ended the 'freeway fight,' allowing area residents to come together and build the Nature Center at the heart of the former North Union Settlement. Founded in 1966, the Nature Center building was constructed a few years later in 1969 primarily through the generous contributions of community members.

National Park

PROGRESS IS MADE

Becoming an educational resource

In 1971, the National Park Service of the United States Department of the Interior named the Nature Center a National Environmental Education Landmark for its "distinct values in revealing significant natural and cultural processes through effective environmental education programs." We were one of the first organizations to be recognized by the Park Service. We were also designated as a National Environmental Study Area.

Becoming a green facility

KEEPING THE ENVIRONMENT IN MIND

Becoming a green facility

After decades of use and with the advancements in technology, the Nature Center undertook an immense $2.2M project to expand and update the buildings to be more environmentally-friendly in 2003. Sustainable building practices, including reusing existing building components and recycling construction materials, limited impact on trees and natural, adjacent habitats and a geothermal heating and cooling system were part of the renovation. The Center stands as a model for cost-effective, energy efficient and "green" design in the middle of an already-built community.

Capital Campaign

ENHANCING YOUR OUTDOOR CLASSROOM

Five Year Capital Campaign Creates More Welcoming & Interactive Spaces

In 2016, we embarked on a 6.1 million dollar capital campaign to improve the overall visitor experience at the Nature Center. Thanks to the tremendous support of our donors, we were able to exceed our goal. The capital campaign improvements include pedestrian connections to trails and neighborhoods, an ADA compliant All Peoples’ Trail, reconstructed viewing areas, an imaginative treehouse, new space for gathering at an amphitheater, a Nature Play Area, habitat restoration across our 20-acre property and more.

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FAST-FORWARD TO TODAY

The mission remains the same

Since 1966, our goals have remained consistent, yet simple: To teach environmental education and to preserve the area's important natural habitats. Each year, more than 17,000 children participate in 40,000 hours of school programs and camps, including a strong early childhood program for several East Side school districts and the Cleveland Public Schools. More than 140,000+ visitors spend time with us each year, using the trails and grounds to learn more about and connect with nature.

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FIGURES
INVESTING IN ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP
OUR IMPACT CANNOT BE UNDERSTATED
ANNUALLY WE WELCOME:
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OUR ASK! PROGRAM OUTCOMES:
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CONSERVE. CONNECT. INSPIRE.

THE NATURE CENTER

Charity Navigator for nonprofit giving

We've been awarded a three star rating by Charity Navigator for our commitment to fiscal responsibility

Macaroni Kid Family Activities

The American Alliance of Museums’ mission is to champion museums and nurture excellence in partnership with our members and allies.

Cleveland Magazine Best of the East

2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022 winner in several categories including Best Birthday Party on Cleveland's Eastside and Best Charitable Event

Cuyahoga Arts and Culture

Supported by local organizations, such as Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, that aim to make an impact across the Greater Cleveland region

National Environmental Landmark

Designated a National Environmental Landmark by the National Park Service

Lake Erie Birding Trail

We are part of the Cleveland Area Loop of the Lake Erie Birding Trail known for the amount of species that can be seen around the Nature Center

Audubon Important Bird Areas

Our land has been designated as an 'Important Bird Area' by the National Audubon Society

Bird Life Important Bird Area

Known for our diverse habitats and the wildlife that lives within these habitats, we have been designated by BirdLife as an 'Important Bird Area'

National Environmental Landmark

2022 Finalist in the “best park or place to explore nature” category for Northeast Ohio Parent Choice Award.

Lake Erie Birding Trail

We are part of the ALL means ALL program through the Cuyahoga County Board of Disabilities. We work to be welcoming of all people and able to support inclusion in all activities, programs and events.

Audubon Important Bird Areas

We have taken the Northeast Ohio Climate Action Pledge

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