Regretfully so

** Important **

The Friends of the Darke Co. Parks, who operate the gift shop at the Nature Center, and the Darke County Park District, regret to inform anyone who purchased solar eclipse glasses from the store that they should NOT use these.  Saturday, we received an email from our provider that these glasses, although labeled correctly, may in fact not be safe for solar viewing.  The Friends and the Park District regret any inconvenience this may cause you and are trying to find a solution. 

If you would like a refund, please bring your glasses in prior to Saturday August 19th to the Nature Center.

Until we are able to find a new source for purchase, please consider utilizing the information in the following links to create a safe eclipse viewing alternative. 




Once again we are terribly sorry for this.

** Important **

Darke County Parks Receives a “Best in Ohio— Connect to Nature Site” Award

On Monday April 10th Darke County Parks received an award as a “Best in Ohio—Connect to Nature Site” for their Shawnee Prairie Preserve from Leave no Child Inside: Miami Valley Collaborative (MVLNCI) and Dayton Regional Green (DRG). To receive this designation, they had to meet a set of criteria from the MVLNCI and DRG which promote students being outside and physically active every day.

The Leave No Child Inside movement was inspired by the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv who is also the co-founder of the International Children and Nature Network.

Other parks awarded the designation included Miami County Park District’s Stillwater Prairie Reserve, Five Rivers Metro Park’s Englewood MetroPark, and the Little Hearts Daycare. Springcreek Elementary also received the “Connect to Nature School” designation at the early April ceremony.

The award presentation included all the above mentioned representatives from all of these organizations as well as representatives from Piqua Local Schools and Dayton Children’s Hospital.

Mandy Martin, naturalist for the Darke County Park District worked very hard to earn this designation for DCP, and she said, “It is crucial for all of us to recognize the importance of green space in our community.  Both children and adults need the opportunity to experience nature as a tool for physical and emotional well-being. Receiving this designation is just one more reason to take advantage of what your Darke County Parks has to offer.” For more information about the “Leave No Child Inside” Movement and Collaborative here in Ohio, visit

DCP Presents “Plant Name Lore”

Ever wonder how a plant got its name or why historical tradition views it in a particular light? The Mayapple is pretty easy, but others aren’t so simple. On May 20th at 2pm join a Darke County Parks naturalist to learn more about these interesting aliases. During this illuminating afternoon, participants will discuss why some plants were stuck with their common names, the historical uses for them, and perhaps a few superstitions about these beautiful back country residents.

For more information about this or any other Darke County Parks program or to register, please call the Nature Center at (937) 548-0165.

Did you know? The trout lily gets its name from the mottled color on its leaves which look similar to a brook trout’s skin.

Get “5K Fit” with DCP

Have you always wanted to try a 5K but never got around to it? Are you tired of those holiday pounds sticking around? Do you just need some motivation to get healthy? Darke County Parks is hosting a fitness program called 5K Fit every Thursday @ 5:30pm from now through May 18th. Join them throughout the spring to get healthy. They’ll have three different programs for you to choose from (walking, walking/jogging, and running) to suit your fitness needs and help you work towards a healthier lifestyle.

With everyone setting their own goals and moving at their own pace, feel free to join them at any point during the program. For every time you attend, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a free registration for the Raptor Run/Walk” on Saturday August 5th at Shawnee Prairie Preserve. Please dress for the weather and bring a timing device and water bottle. For questions or weather updates, call the Nature Center at 548-0165.

Summer Camp Information Packet

HEY KIDS!  Get OUTSIDE this Summer!

For over a decade, Darke County Parks summer camps have been an annual tradition for families. In our continued commitment to getting kids outside to learn, appreciate and enjoy nature, we offer two styles of camps. Don’t wait! Complete the included registration forms, and mail your payment today. Space is limited and fills up quickly. We can’t wait!

Download the Information Packet HERE

Schmidt’s Refrigeration Donates to Darke County Parks

Schmidt’s Refrigeration has supported Darke County Parks for over twenty years. When the park district built the Nature Center facility at Shawnee Prairie Preserve in 1997, Schmidt’s handled installing the HVAC system, and they have worked with the park board to maintain and upgrade the system throughout the years.

At the April 13th Darke County Parks Board of Commissioners meeting, Greg and Lori Schmidt, owners of Schmidt’s Refrigeration, presented the park district with a donation made possible through cost saving efforts on their last project for the Nature Center. The Darke County Park Board of Commissioners would like to thank Schmidt’s Refrigeration for their continued support and for answering the parks’ needs during both hot and cold weather so that the Nature Center and staff may carry on serving and educating Darke County residents in comfort.

Photo Caption: Pictured from left to right: Roger Brocious, Parks Commissioner Vice-President; John Cook, Parks Commissioner President; Tina White, Parks Commissioner-At-Large; Greg and Lori Schmidt, owners of Schmidt’s Refrigeration, and Roger Van Frank, Park Director.

Shawnee Prairie Log House and Blacksmith Shop Open

Ever wonder what life was like for the early European settlers on the Ohio frontier? Imagine living in a log house every day or working in a blacksmith shop to earn your living. Starting on May 20th and on Saturdays throughout the summer from 1pm to 4pm at Shawnee Prairie Preserve west of Greenville on State Route 502 come visit the settlers and blacksmith as volunteers demonstrate what life was like here 200 years ago. Hear the hammer and anvil ring, listen to tales of life on the frontier, and imagine that the modern world doesn’t exist for an afternoon. For questions or more information about any other parks or park district programs, please call the Nature Center at (937) 548-0165 or email

Jupiter Skygazing at Shawnee Prairie

Under the light of a near full moon on Saturday, May 6th at 8:30pm, join Darke County Parks as they welcome back the Stillwater Stargazers to Shawnee Prairie Preserve. Jupiter and four of its moons will be high for optimal viewing through the provided telescopes. Participants will spend some time discussing the coming total solar eclipse to occur this August as well! Participants will meet in the parking lot at the Nature Center for this free program. Please enter the parking lot slowly with parking lights only. If the sky is cloudy, please call the Nature Center by 4pm to confirm the program is still occurring. For any questions about this or any other Park District programs, please call the Nature Center at (937) 548-0165.

Did you know? Ancient Roman astronomers named Jupiter after their god of the sky and lightening, known as the king of the gods.

WILD 5-0 at Darke County Parks

With age come wisdom, and with wisdom comes special opportunities. The Darke County Park District invites everyone young at heart and wise with age to join them on Friday, May 5th at 1pm for this new series of programs geared toward the “50 and over” crowd at Shawnee Prairie Preserve. Spring wildflowers, migrating birds, and fresh leaves will greet participants this season.  Register today for this free program! For any questions about this or any other park district programs or to register, please call the Nature Center at (937) 548-0165.

Did you know? Experts claim that spending time in nature boosts memory, increases physical health, and fights depression in older adults.