Once an engineer’s hobby farm, this site was given to Ann Arbor as a place for all visitors to enjoy the natural environment.
Bring your family to the Leslie Science & Nature Center for hours of outdoor exploration and views of birds of prey and “critters.” Dr. Eugene Leslie, a University of Michigan engineering professor, and his wife Emily lived here for over 50 years, breathing fresh air, enjoying the natural beauty and farming their own crops and animals.
The donation of the Leslie farm to Ann Arbor in 1976 led to the creation of the science center in the next decade. Appreciate the legacy left by the Leslie family in today’s educational center. Start at the DTE Energy Nature House, built on the footprint of Dr. Leslie’s home laboratory. It was here that he worked on numerous projects to improve processes in the petroleum industry. Today, see practical usage of solar power, water conservation and recycled and natural building materials.
The Critter House, once the farm’s honey house, is always popular with kids. View snakes, frogs, toads and other small animals and teach kids about how all these “critters” live in the wild.
Kestrels, eagles, hawks, falcons, owls and vultures occupy the Raptor Enclosures. Walk along paths through the center to see these regal rescued birds. Watch feedings scheduled during the day to appreciate the order of natural survival. If your kids fall in love with one of the birds or animals, consider donating to the Adopt-a-Raptor or Adopt-a-Critter program.
In addition to animal observation, the center has the natural habitat of the Black Pond Woods. Follow the 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) trail during any season. Spring offers flowering plants and trees, summer has hummingbirds, autumn features trees with fall colors and winter has animal tracks in the snow and sledding. Look for the site’s three geocache locations.
The Leslie Science & Nature Center, including the outdoor Raptor Enclosures, is free and open during daylight hours every day. Visit the website to check for special events and find out which Sundays the Critter House is open. Drive or ride a bike about 2 miles (3 kilometers) north of central Ann Arbor to reach the site. Note that the center’s restrooms are sometimes closed.