John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove
Conserving lands and habitats, for birds and people
The John James Audubon Center (JJAC) is a nonprofit nature center and wildlife sanctuary with 175 acres of forests, meadows, and stream valleys, plus several historic buildings, including the first American home of John James Audubon.
John James Audubon (1785–1851) was an ornithologist, naturalist, conservationist, and bird portrait painter who’s influential 1827 Birds of America pictorial guide became one of the inspirations behind the formation of the National Audubon Society.
JJAC’s programming reflects that of the National Audubon Society in general, focusing on conserving ecosystems and biodiversity, protecting natural habitats, and reconnecting people with nature.
JJAC offers exhibits on birds and wildlife as well as displays showcasing Audubon’s life, artwork, writing, and scientific and historic legacy, including a digital version of Birds of America.
One popular exhibit is “Birds of Prey and Blue Jay,” a group of birds that cannot be released back into the wild due to injury or illegal human imprinting. JJAC offers these magnificent creatures safe “room and board” in a series of large enclosures (and occasionally they get to attend fancy cocktail parties when JJAC is hosting a wedding or other event!).
There is also the “Fledgling Trail,” an interactive playground where children can enjoy mimicking the stages of being a baby bird–hatching from an egg, being in a nest, and finally leaving the nest to fly away through the forest on a zip line!
JJAC’s numerous educational and outreach activities have earned it an “Outstanding Environmental Education Program” award from the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators. In nearby Norristown, for example, JJAC has introduced native plants programming to six elementary schools and two high schools, enhancing science classes through hands-on, exploratory learning that can’t be replicated inside classrooms. And, in collaboration with local Latinx community networks, JJAC supports working with the community by teaching bird-centric programming, installing garden beds, and developing bilingual after-school curricula around watershed health.
Backed by Audubon’s century of conservation history, the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove is a great place to keep “abreast” about efforts to conserve nature and protect and restore the habitats we share with birds and other wildlife