Serving the community is a central component of the Brown Family Environmental Center's mission. Community members are invited to explore our 610-acre preserve, wildlife garden and 9 miles of trails, which are open from dawn to dusk. The BFEC offers public programs and events so participants can learn about and experience nature, sustainability, and more. The center regularly hosts field trips for elementary schools.

Check below for more information, or check the BFEC calendar for upcoming events.

School Field Trips

The BFEC hosts school field trips for local school children every year. Since its inception in 1996, almost 23,000 elementary school children have visited. Programs offer hands-on, outdoor explorations to inspire curiosity about nature while addressing Ohio academic science standards. As of fall 2019, the BFEC is proud to reimburse every classroom for their transportation expenses to/from our facility for field trips.  This is possible through generous support from the Knox County Foundation and many dedicated private donors.

Nature Programs

The BFEC offers regular programming that covers natural history and sustainability topics — everything from eagles to winter tree ID, and wild edible plants to searching for salamanders. Check our calendar often or join our mail/email list and receive regular notices.

Summer Camps

The BFEC partners with SPI: Where Science & Play Intersect every summer to offer engaging nature camps. Check the SPI website for more details.

The BFEC is proud to support day camps offered by other local organizations each summer, including the Salvation Army, behavioral health partners and more. If you would like to bring your summer camp group to the BFEC, contact Noelle Jordan at jordan2 or at 740-427-5052.

Keep it Wild: Earth Day at the BFEC

Join us on Saturday, April 20, from 12 - 4 p.m. for our Keep it Wild! Earth Day Festival at the BFEC. This year, we will feature wolves from the Ohio Canid Center, birds of prey from Ohio Bird Sanctuary and bugs from OSU’s United Titanium Bug Zoo. This FREE family event will also include children’s games and activities, food trucks, live music, and environmentally-focused vendors and organizations. 

Solar Eclipse Viewing: April 8, 2024

The BFEC will host guests for eclipse observation from 1:30 until 5 p.m. We will provide eclipse glasses for safe viewing, and we kindly request that visitors wear their safety glasses at all times during the event.  

Activities ongoing throughout the event will include live streaming of the eclipse across the U.S., pre and post-eclipse yoga sessions (sun salutations!), traditional yard games, eclipse data collecting and solar/lunar crafting. Announcements at different stages of the eclipse will be made so guests are aware of the happenings. 

Please bring something to sit on (camp chair, blanket, towel), snacks/water and bug repellent. Baked goods will be available for purchase from the Happy Owl Mobile Bakery.

In the days prior to the eclipse, you’re invited to visit our labyrinth, which will be enhanced with eclipse information to build excitement for the event.

Walk the Trails at BFEC

Runners and walkers of all ages are always welcome on the trails at the BFEC. With 9 miles of trails, you can enjoy hardwood forests, restored tall grass prairies and other ecosystems. Please keep dogs leashed, and do not harvest mushrooms, wildflowers, herbs, etc.

Knox County Nature Photography Contest

Photographs of our natural world remind us of the beauty to be found when we take the time to look. Every year, community members are invited to enter this contest in celebration of our scenic Knox County. Photographs are due in mid-October, and a contest show takes places during our Fall Harvest Festival. Prizes are awarded in adult, children's (15 and under) and student divisions. Visit the photo contest page for entry guidelines.

Fall Harvest Festival

This annual event features horse-drawn hayrides, pumpkin decorating, live music, cider press, and children's games and activities.  Please join us on October 14, 2023, from noon until 4 p.m.  

Christmas Bird Count

For over 100 years, the Audubon Society has organized the Christmas Bird Count to track long term trends in bird populations across the Americas. The BFEC monitors birds right here in Knox County, covering Mount Vernon, Gambier, Apple Valley and Fredericktown. Participants count birds at home feeders or in the field along roads and trails. Contact the BFEC anytime of year to let us know you'd like to help. Email Noelle Jordan at or call 740-427-5052.

We sell high quality bird seed! Stop in the resource center for more information.

View the full BFEC calendar of upcoming events.