|The Friday night spotlight is on nature and history at Ernie Miller Park this summer|
"These are informal nature and history programs in a very casual atmosphere," explained Outdoor Education Manager Bill McGowan. "We want visitors to have a fun and educational experience in the outdoors while being surrounded by the symphony of nature's orchestra. It's a really unique setting and it makes a fun backdrop for these programs."
This year's Friday Night Amphitheatre Program series begins on June 8 with a presentation called Owls - Eyes of the Night in which three live owls will be featured to help participants discover more about these creatures of the night.
The June 15 program is called Westward to Kansas and will give audience members a chance to meet pioneer Emily Thomas as she tells stories of her travels west in a covered wagon in search of new opportunities in 1855 Kansas.
Snakes Alive is the name of the June 22 program which will explore facts and fallacies of these legless wonders of the natural world, with emphasis on Kansas snakes.
Rounding out June programs is Birds of Prey on June 29, in which audience members will learn why rodents fear these great birds and see close-up examples of these majestic raptors and their special adaptations.
As a summer tradition going back more than 20 years, the amphitheater programs have a developed regular following, but animal programs, especially those with owls or snakes, are always proven to be especially popular.
"We do like to offer a variety of programs to appeal to a wide assortment of interests," McGowan said. "We do a nice mixture of historical and natural history programming. One of the goals is to allow the public the opportunity to participate in programs we normally only do for school-age groups."
Designed for all ages, amphitheater programs begin at 7 p.m. and last about an hour. Programs are presented by park naturalists and park police officers. A charge of $2.75 per person helps cover the cost of the programs; children under two are free.
Ernie Miler Park is located at 909 N. Kansas 7 Highway in Olathe. Visitors can park at either parking lot and follow the path to the amphitheater, although the lot nearer to the nature center is recommended for those needing handicapped-accessible access.
Other amphitheater programs planned this summer include: Kansas Symbols, July 13; Haunting in the Forest, July 20; and Predators on the Prowl, July 27. For more information on amphitheater programs, call (913) 764-7759.