Address & Phone
Ford Nature Center
840 Old Furnace Rd.
Youngstown, OH 44511
Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm
Mondays & Observed Holidays – Closed
Observed Holidays: Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day
Ford Nature Center
The Nature Center redevelopment project was completed in 2023 and was designed to improve, enhance, and expand the Ford Nature Center to better serve the community’s nature education needs. The project successfully preserved the historic and physical attributes of this facility while adding both indoor and outdoor educational opportunities. Reconfiguration and expansion of interior spaces has increased public programming and educational opportunities with new interactive exhibits, interchangeable displays, and interpretive signage. Accessibility throughout the facility has been improved and new public spaces have been added.
New features within the building include:
- Nature Exhibit Hall – Interactive exhibits for all ages focusing on nature and wildlife found within the MetroParks. The ground level, full length glass observation area features a stunning view of the Native Wildflower Meadow and outdoor classroom.
- History Room – Spend time learning about the history of the Ford family and Ford Nature Center. Navigate through the interactive map table to learn more about the Nature Center grounds, trail system, and other areas in the MetroParks.
- Bird Observation Room – Relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of native bird species as they feed on various feeders and nest in the multiple bird boxes located in the Wildflower Meadow. Record your observations or explore the different species at the e-bird desk located in “Nancy’s Nook.”
- Gift Shop – Find the perfect gift for the nature lover in your life! In our gift shop, you will find unique items featuring Mill Creek MetroParks swag for both adults and kids, nature-inspired jewelry, candles, various drinkware, eco-friendly gifts and so much more. Snacks and beverages are also available for purchase.
Features throughout the grounds include:
- Rooftop Garden – A living rooftop garden comprised of select plant species. Located behind the Nature Center on the roof of the Exhibit Hall, a series of planted trays were combined to create a patchwork of plant species with a wealth of function. The plants include sedges, alliums, and select bulbs that create habitat to attract pollinators such as birds, bees and insects. The plants also absorb rainwater to reduce stormwater runoff, promote health and well-being, lower ambient temperatures and conserve energy.
- Native Wildflower Meadow – The wildflower meadow is a highlight of the Ford Nature Center grounds. Seeds from over two dozen native forbs (wildflowers) and warm season grasses were planted to establish this important habitat. The plants attract pollinator species of birds and insects, as well as providing suitable habitat for ground-swelling animal. Seasonal change is on display throughout the meadow with blooms of varying color and duration, differing textures, and new wildlife, offering a new experience every day.
- Outdoor Classrooms – This space, once the location of the Ford family tennis court, is carved out of the wildflower meadow along the tree line of the property. The classroom is accessible utilizing the perimeter trail. Natural seating and other amenities create a space to gather, learn, and commune with nature. The second outdoor classroom located behind the Education Building, includes terraced sandstone block seating and a concrete patio. Created to encourage groups to gather, learn, and commune with nature, visitors can directly access the Virginia J. Axtmann Trail for all People or the wildflower meadow perimeter trail. Educational signage is located nearby.
- Axtman Trail for All People (0.1 mile; easy, paved trail) – This paved trail is designed to provide people of all abilities access to the naturally wooded areas surrounding the Ford Nature Center. Visitors can take a leisurely walk along this trail, experiencing forested habitat and the various plant species that comprise it. Educational signage is located throughout the trail.
- Education Building – The 3-story Education Building was once the garage to both the Robinson and Ford families. Originally designed and constructed with the house (Nature Center), the structure once housed an apartment on the upper level. The building now facilitates multiple actvities in both indoor and outdoor classroom settings, and provides direct access to the James & Coralie Centofanti Foundation plaza and the Virginia J. Axtmann Trail for All People.