Watkins Nature Center

Watkins Nature Center

331 Watkins Park Drive
Kettering, MD

Amenities
  • people meeting at a table
331 Watkins Park Drive
Kettering, MD
Tel: (301) 218-6702
Email: watkinsnaturecenter@pgparks.com
Hours:
· Mon : Closed
· Tues - Sat : 10AM - 5PM
· Sun : 10AM - 4PM

Amenities

  • Gardens

  • people meeting at a table

    Meeting Room

  • Parking Lot

  • Trail Access

Rentals

  • Event Buildings & Areas

<strong>Visit</strong>

About/Features

More info coming soon

Accessibility

More information coming soon.

Call the office at (301) 218-6702 if you have specific questions.

Stay in Touch

<strong>Public Programs</strong>

Watkins Nature Center offers nature-based programs for children, families, and adults.

How To Register

Program Registration

To guarantee your spot within a program, advance registration is required for all programs with a PARKS DIRECT number. Drop-in admission (no registration) for programs are accepted only as space permits. Space availability is never guaranteed for drop-ins. Programs may be canceled 24-48 hours prior to the start of the program due to insufficient registrations via Parks Direct.

If you already have a PARKS DIRECT account, please register for programs via Parks Direct. Most of our programs allow for “spots booked” where only one person in the family needs to have an account to register for the total number of desired spots. However, for programs that do not allow for spots booked, each person desiring to attend the program must have their own Parks Direct account and be registered individually.

Don’t have an account yet? Check out the Parks Direct page for information on how to set up an account for yourself and your family.

For programs that do not have a Parks Direct course number, please call Patuxent River Park at (301) 218-6700for information.

Program Requirements

Check the age requirements for each program before registering. All participants must meet the age requirement to attend a program. For some programs, children must be accompanied by a registered adult, who must participate in the program with the child. Unless a program says otherwise you may not drop your child off and leave.

Fees for programs are based on your residency.

Program Fees

Make sure that your email and other contact information is up-to-date on your Parks Direct account prior to registration. Staff may need to contact you if they have questions or in the event that a program must be canceled due to inclement weather or other reasons.

  • Residents (R): individuals who live within Prince George’s or Montgomery Counties
  • Non-Residents (NR): individuals who live in all other jurisdictions.

Program Descriptions

Puppet Friends in Storyland (Ages 2-3)

Enjoy a nature story time, and then join a naturalist as they led you through a nature themed craft! You and your students will join us twice each month for an interactive lesson with a hands-on activity.

Toddler Trail Time (ages 2-3)

Get out and take a hike with your toddler. Investigate the outdoors. Meet new friends as a naturalist leads you on a themed hike. Connect with nature and expose your little ones to the glories of the environment.

Senior Nature Hike (60 & up)

For the active senior! Join a naturalist on a fitness hike, while looking for wildlife and local plant life. Please wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather.

Make & Meet (ages 2-7)

Meet a critter and get crafty! Kids will enjoy an up close visit with a nature center animal and learn what makes them special. Discover how each animal is unique. Use what you have learned to create a craft about that animal.

First Friday Campfires (ages 2 & up)

Enjoy nature tales and roasted marshmallows over a community campfire! Bring hotdogs, if you like! Start new friendships and make family memories. Patrons will be notified of weather-related cancellations.

<strong>School Programs</strong>

Watkins Nature Center provides an array of nature-based programs students of all ages. Our goal is to connect students to their natural world and promote conservation and nature education.

How to Schedule

Advanced registration is required for all group programs. Programs are available Tuesday – Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are typically 45 minutes long. To better serve you and to ensure a quality experience please be advised that your program is only booked when you have received a confirmation email from the nature center. For any questions please contact the Watkins Nature Center.

  • Group reservations require a minimum of 10 people.
  • Groups larger than 40 will be scheduled over multiple time slots or days.
  • Tentative dates must be confirmed within 5 business days. Afterward, unconfirmed dates can be offered to other groups.

To schedule a program:

  • Complete the Field Trip Application below.
  • For additional questions email: WatkinsNatureCenter@pgparks.com or call (301) 218-6702

WNC Field Trip Application

Watkins Nature Center Field Trip Application

Organization/ School Information

Address

Requested Program Information

Explore available programs through the link below!

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Fees

  • Programs at Watkins Nature Center typically cost $4 for Prince George’s and Montgomery County residents, and $6 for non-county residents.
  • Away programs hosted at your facility typically cost $6 for Prince George’s and Montgomery County residents and $8 for non-county residents.
  • We allow 1 free chaperone for every 5 students. Chaperones over the 1:5 ratio will be required to pay the program fee. Teachers are considered chaperones.

Lunch Facilities

The nature center does not have eating facilities. You are welcome to bring your lunches and staff can reserve a picnic shelter for you nearby. Please be mindful that there is no eating or drink allowed inside the nature center.

Cancellation & Change Policy

48 hours notice is required for cancellations or schedule changes. We will be glad to reschedule your program for a later date if possible. In the case of inclement weather or school closures, we will gladly work with you to reschedule.

Program Descriptions

Making Sense of Nature Recommended for Pre-K & K

Both people and animals use their senses to explore the world. Come learn about our 5 senses and how we use them, and explore how animals use their senses, including some we DON’T have, to survive.

Wild Things: Recommended for Pre-K – adults

See where the wild things REALLY are! Our naturalist will introduce you to a variety of animals, including insects, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds of prey. Discover how we classify animals, their adaptations, and meet some that live in your own backyard!

Reptiles & Amphibians: Recommended for 1st grade adults

Dive into the fascinating world of herpetology. Explore the differences and similarities between amphibians and reptiles and see how they have adapted to survive relatively unchanged for millions of years. Meet cold blooded creatures not only from your local area, but from around the world!

Invertebrates: Recommended for 2nd – 3rd grade

Approximately 95% of all life on Earth are invertebrates. Let our naturalist teach you how something spineless is anything but wimpy! Learn about the different groups of this amazing creatures and how they are so successful at survival. Meet arthropods, arachnids, and insects! These simple creatures are simply cool!

Birds of Prey: Recommended for 2nd grade – adults

This one’s for the birds! Let us introduce you to one of the most majestic group of birds, the raptors. Learn how they are grouped as birds of prey and the differences between the different types of these fearsome predators. Meet several raptors and see firsthand the impressive adaptations they have to survive all over the world.

Animals in Winter: Recommended for 2nd grade – adults

When it’s cold outside, animals can’t put on a sweater or turn on the heat. How do they survive when the weather outside is frightful? Join a naturalist to see how animals hibernate, migrate, and adapt to the changing weather. Learn how these animals prepare for the coldest months and what tells them it’s almost spring. These animals don’t have winter worries!

Web of Life: Recommended for 2nd – 5th grade

An ecosystem is made up living and non-living things that are connected to each other. Some of those connections are obvious, while others are amazing. Join us as we create a food web with common organisms from our area. See where all energy starts and how it moves through a food chain. Discuss how different animals are adapted for different food sources and how they process energy differently. Finally, watch as we create a living food web with local animals right before your eyes!

Pre-Colonial Maryland: Recommended for 3rd – 6th grade

Before the colonization of Maryland, the animals and plants of the area still had challenges, interactions, and relationships with each other and the indigenous peoples who lived in the area. Join a naturalist as we discuss how the wildlife existed, what is happening to them now, and how wildlife aided in the growth of Maryland as a region.

Rocks & Minerals: Recommended for 4th – 6th grade

Geography rocks! Join a naturalist for a hands-on exploration of many common (and some not so common) minerals and rocks from around the world. Discuss how these rocks from, how we classify them, and why they are important in ecosystems and for human development.

Discovery Hike: Recommended for 1st grade – adults

You will never get the same hike twice! Come along with a park naturalist for a nature hike on one of our many trails to identify many local trees, plants, and types of wildlife while connecting with the beauty that is right in your own neighborhood. Please dress appropriately for the weather. Group size is limited to 15 participants per naturalist

Owl Pellet Lab: Recommended for 3rd – 5th grade

Enjoy the best of both worlds bringing outdoor observations into your student’s homes! In this hands-on class, students develop science and technology processing skills by learning to use laboratory equipment and recording observations. Students apply the scientific method to draw data driven conclusions from their virtual field studies. Discover the WHOOO and why behind owl pellets! Students are introduced to the biology and life history of owls while learning how to use dissecting instruments in the laboratory. Students dissect owl pellets in the lab and use data to determine the habitat use of owls.

<strong>Rentals</strong>

Event Space Rentals

The auditorium room and adjacent kitchenette at Watkins Nature Center are available for rental for meetings, workshops/training, bridal showers and baby showers. The auditorium room seats 65 people comfortably with tables and chairs, 90 people with chairs, but no tables. The maximum capacity permitted is 90 people. A retractable wall-mounted projector screen is located at the end of the room and is available for use with all rentals (the renter must provide projection equipment). The room dimension is 32’ x 42’, and it comes equipped with 90 chairs and 14 tables (6’x30″).

The adjacent kitchenette features ample counter space, a double sink, refrigerator/freezer, and microwave (no stove or oven). Renters are permitted to use chafing dishes with canned gel fuel (sternos) in order to keep food warm.

The room is available for rent Tuesday-Sunday from the hours of 9:00 am – 4:30 pm. Room rental is subject to availability and must be reserved at least 2 weeks prior to the date of the event. Set up and clean-up time must occur within the reserved time frame.

*No children’s activities are permitted in the auditorium room, i.e. parties with food, crafts, etc. All rental activities must be approved by the facility director.

Hourly Rates:

  • Minimum 3 hours per rental
  • Prince George’s & Montgomery County Residents: $90/hr*
  • Residents of all other jurisdictions: $117/hr
  • Refundable damage deposit: $150
  • *Residents are those who reside in Prince George’s County or Montgomery County. Proof of residency is required.

Make a Reservation:

To make a reservation, please complete this linked Auditorium Room Rental Application.

To hold your reservation your security deposit and 1/2 your rental fee is due 2 weeks after booking. The final payment is due 2 weeks before your rental. To make a reservation, you must have a PARKS DIRECT account.

Birthday Party Packages

Wild Things Birthday Party Package (Workshop Room)

Have your child’s birthday party at Watkins Nature Center! We provide the use of our workshop room for 3 hours, a 30-minute live animal show, and a coloring book for each child. You supply the food, decorations, and fun! A great package deal, that is suitable for ages 2-12.

Parties include:

  • A 30-minute Wild Things animal show featuring a variety of our resident animals.
  • Parties can accommodate up 30 people (including children & adults)
  • 3-hour use of our workshop room from 12-3 pm on a Saturday or Sunday. This time includes set up, party, nature program, and clean up time. Additional time may be scheduled at the time of reservation for $70/hr for residents and $91/hr for non-residents.
  • Use of our workshop room, which includes tables, chairs, sink, and refrigerator/freezer.
  • A free nature coloring book for each child in your party which will be provided the day of the party.

Birthday Package Fees (3 hours)

Wild Things Birthday Party Package:

  • Prince George’s & Montgomery County Residents: $240*
  • Residents of all other jurisdictions: $312

*Proof of residency is required.

Make a Reservation

To make a reservation, please complete the form below.

To hold your reservation your full payment is due 2 weeks after receiving your party reservation.

To make a reservation, you must have a PARKS DIRECT account.

Birthday Party Reservation Form

Watkins Nature Center Birthday Party Application

Please Note: Max capacity is 30 people.

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At Bladensburg Waterfront Park, we offer rental facilities for birthday parties, family reunions, weddings, meeting and more! We also get your equipped with recreational rental gear like kayaks, canoes, and bicycles! For more information, call (301) 779-0371.

Event Space Rentals

Ropewalk Pavilion

The Ropewalk Pavilion is available for daily rentals and has approximately 24 picnic tables with a maximum seated capacity of 150 people. For information or to book the Ropewalk Pavilion, please call 301-779-0371 or come to the park office. Remember to bring a form of ID and payment.

Things to remember:

  • All renters must have a Parks Direct to complete a rental contract
  • Large groups or specialized functions (festivals and community events) must have permission, contract, or a reservation to use the pavilion or park
  • Alcoholic beverages and smoking are not permitted in the park
  • Grilling may be permitted with a contract and manager approval only
  • Live bands, performances, and DJs are not permitted without manager and Park Police approval.
  • Parking next to the pavilion or on the paved promenade area is not permitted
  • Security deposit and full payment are due at the time of reservation.
  • All pavilion contracts are for 10 am- 7 pm.
  • All M-NCPPC park rules apply. Please call for more information.

Fees:

  • Tier 1: Up to 150 people (pavilion only)
    • Resident: $300*
    • Non-resident: $390
    • Security Deposit: $100
  • Tier 2: 150-250 people (pavilion and paved grounds)
    • Resident: $500*
    • Non-resident: $650
    • Security Deposit: $150
  • Tier 3: 250-500 people (pavilion, paved grounds, grass/vendor areas)
    • Resident: $1,000*
    • Non-resident: $1,300
    • Security Deposit: $200
  • *Residents are those who reside in Prince George’s County or Montgomery County. Proof of residency is required.

Waterfront Studio

The Waterfront Studio is available to rent by the hour for meetings, gatherings, parties, programs, lectures/exhibits, and other elegant functions.

Things to Remember:

  • Tables and chairs are provided for studio rental
  • The renter is responsible for set up and clean up of their event
  • Your paid rental times must include setup and breakdown/clean up
  • Mini-refrigerator and microwave available
  • Maintenance supplies are provided
  • Decorations are permitted; adhesives must not damage the surfaces of walls
  • Renters are permitted to use chafing dishes with canned gel fuel (sterno) to keep food warm
  • Includes exclusive use of riverfront patio

Hourly Fee Rates:
Minimum 4-hour rental on Saturdays and Sundays

  • Resident: $75/hour*
  • Non-resident: $98/hour
  • With Ropewalk Pavilion Contract:
    • Resident: $50/hour
    • Non-resident: $65/hour
  • Security deposit: $100 (additional fees may apply.) Security deposit is due at time of reservation. Remaining balance due 60 days prior to rental. If rented under 60 days before your event, the full balance will be due at the time of reservation.
  • *Residents are those who reside in Prince George’s County or Montgomery County. Proof of residency is required.

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Kayak, Canoe, Boat Rentals

  • April through October, 7 days a week (weather dependent), with launch times from 9 am to 2 PM (online)/ 3 PM (walk-up), with equipment return by 4 pm.
  • Online reservations recommended. Reservations close at 12 noon the day before the rental. Walk-up rentals based on boat availability.

Rental Requirements & Details:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age to reserve a canoe or kayak.
  • Single kayakers must be 12 or older.
  • Persons 17 and under must have an adult (18 or older) with them at all times. Children under 3 not permitted in canoes or kayaks at any time.
  • Must have a Parks Direct account.
  • Must have a driver’s license or government-issued identification (with birth date verification).
  • A Personal Flotation Device (life jacket) is provided to all boaters and must be worn at all times while on the water
  • Please arrive several minutes prior to your launch time to park, gather your belongings, and prepare for your launch time. Parking is limited.
  • While staff will be on the dock for needed assistance, we encourage all renters to be able to get in and out of rental boats by themselves or with help from their group.
  • Additional fees will apply to the following: late returns, lost and/or damaged equipment, or rental agreement violations.

Things to remember:

  • All renters must have a Parks Direct to complete a rental contract
  • Large groups or specialized functions (festivals and community events) must have permission, contract, or a reservation to use the pavilion or park
  • Alcoholic beverages and smoking are not permitted in the park
  • Grilling may be permitted with a contract and manager approval only
  • Live bands, performances, and DJs are not permitted without manager and Park Police approval.
  • Parking next to the pavilion or on the paved promenade area is not permitted
  • Security deposit and full payment are due at the time of reservation.
  • All pavilion contracts are for 10 am- 7 pm.
  • All M-NCPPC park rules apply. Please call for more information.

Canoe & Kayak Rates:

  • Residents:
    • $25/Kayak
    • $30/Tandem Kayak or Canoe
  • Non-residents:
    • $33/Kayak
    • $39/Tandem Kayak or Canoe

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