Irvine Nature Center

Private, non-profit nature center highlights Maryland wildlife, habitats

The Irvine Nature Center exhibit hall is open seven days a week and is free of charge.| Photo courtesy of the Irvine Nature Center

The Irvine Nature Center, located in the Caves Valley region of Baltimore County, is a great place to learn more about Maryland wildlife and habitats.

The center grounds include 210 acres of woodlands, wetlands, meadows, and demonstration gardens. According to the Irvine Nature Center’s website, more than 80,000 people visit the center each year. It is the only private, non-profit nature center in the region.

“We show our visitors, members and friends the importance of environmental stewardship and teach a concern for the planet that translates into actions that help preserve our natural world and create a healthier planet,” the website states.

Irvine’s Manager of Marketing and Communications Irvine Nature Center Makenzie Sterrett,  said the center was founded in 1975 by Olivia Irvine Dodge, who recognized the importance of preserving ecologically significant places and providing environmental education for children and adults.

Native animals, insects

Sterrett said Irvine is home to more than 70 animals that are native to the region including a great horned owl, an opossum, a corn snake, and a red-tailed hawk.

“Our animal collection contains creatures that are unable to sustain themselves in the wild due to a variety of reasons,” she said.

Animal Care Coordinator Jenna Krebs with the Irvine Nature Center, shows visitors a great horned owl. The center is home to more than 70 animals.| Photo courtesy of the Irvine Nature Center

At the butterfly house, visitors can get up-close looks at the habitat and life cycle of butterflies that are native to Maryland, including monarch, swallowtail and painted lady butterflies.

“An Irvine naturalist will help you find remarkable caterpillars and even tiny eggs,” the website states. “Discover the amazing metamorphosis that these creatures make, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.”

Irvine visitors also enjoy experiencing the sights and sounds of nature by taking self-guided hikes, Sterrett added.

Upcoming events

Throughout the year the Irvine Nature Center offers educational programs for all ages. Programs range from geocaching, field trips and night hikes to an “Eat, Drink and Learn” series for adults. Upcoming programs include “Autumn Astronomy” set for 6: 30 to 8:30 p.m., Nov. 17 and “Animal Encounters” 10 to 11 a.m., Dec. 9.

Children in the Irvine Nature Center’s preschool program explore wetlands. |Photo courtesy of the Irvine Nature Center

Nature of Things

The center’s Executive Director Brooks Paternotte hosts a weekly broadcast about the region’s flora and fauna, called “The Nature of Things.” This program airs Tuesdays at 4:44 p.m. on WYPR 88.1 FM.

The Irvine Nature Center is located at 11201 Garrison Forest Road, Owings Mills, MD 21117, and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Admission o the center is free; some programs require a fee. For more information about programs and park rules call 443-738-9200, visit, or search “Irvine Nature Center” on Facebook.


By Rachel Ponder, APG News