Work began in 1986 on converting an old and dilapidated house along Newcastle Drive into what is now the Hana and Arthur Ginzbarg Nature Discovery Center.

The center, completed in 1989, serves multiple functions: preserving local flora and wildlife; educating the public on Bellaire’s natural environment; and hosting programs, camps and events.

“We maintain our grounds with Texas native flora and fauna. What that means is we want our little 4 acres to be a haven for Texas native plants and animals,” Executive Director DeAndra Ramsey said.

The center holds more than 15 animal species that can be found naturally in East Texas, and the park has four miniature habitat zones displaying what the region looked like presettlement.

“We think that a connection to nature is vital for all ages, whether you are a 2-year-old or 102-year-old,’’ Ramsey said.

The center hosts parties, field trips and a summer science camp, and it partners with local schools to present students with specialized content from the park.

“We have a better opportunity to get more individualized with our programs. ... It’s more focused on the audience and the participants,” said Elizabeth Fries, an education specialist at the center.

This year, the center launched a $1 million fundraising campaign for a new addition: the Enchanted Woods, a children’s play area where “kids can make their own fun.”

“You work in this field because you care about nature and conservation and the environment, ... so it’s very nice to come to work every day and have your co-workers share your same interests and passions,” Ramsey said.

Nature Campaign

The nature center launched a fundraising goal this year to raise $1 million to add an Enchanted Wood play area for children. Patrons can donate via the center's website. Features of the new area will include:

Rolling Hills Run: land creating a natural slide to play

Lily Pad Pond: shallow pool of water to play in

Garden Stroll Backyard Encounters: path filled with plants to discover

“The Old Hollow Stump” Stepper Yard: a hollowed tree stump little kids can climb through

The Open Lawn: open space to host small events or parties

Nature Workshop: an area to pile twigs, mud or sand to build with natural materials

Hana and Arthur Ginzbarg Nature Discovery Center

7112 Newcastle Drive, Bellaire


Hours: Tue.-Fri. noon-5:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., closed Mon.