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Earth Day 2023 Open House

April 22, 2023 @ 9:00 am - 2:00 pm


The Norcross Wildlife Foundation Open House

Saturday, April 22, 2023

The staff of the Norcross Wildlife Foundation invites the public to find out more about all that Norcross has to offer, at an open house to be held on Earth Day, April 22nd.   Join us at our Administration Building at 30 Peck Road for tours, displays, and family-oriented hands-on activities such as helping to plant a native plant meadow, crafting a butterfly life cycle wheel for children, a nature scavenger hunt and more! 

Guided tours of our public trails will be led by Norcross staff, and we are honored to kick-off the day with an early-riser birdwatching walk with Bill Cormier of Wild Bird Crossing. 

Bat expert and rehabilitator Maureen Heidtmann will give a presentation on her work and will have some live bats for you to see and appreciate the important roles they play in our regional ecosystem. 

We will be joined by other non-profits from the area working to protect nature and wildlife, including the Turtle Rescue League, the Massachusetts Butterfly Club, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, and Opacum Land Trust.

Local high school student May Adams will have a display of her nature photography.  Staff from Norcross Wildlife Foundation will be on hand to talk about our work and the importance of protecting wildlife and natural resources in our region.  There will be a food truck, free giveaways and free raffles!

So please come join us to celebrate Earth Day and learn all about the Norcross Wildlife Foundation and the 8,021 acres of wildlife sanctuary it cares for in our region. 

Schedule of Events

7:00 am – “Birding with Bill” Meet at Trailhead Kiosk for a walk in the Sanctuary with Bird Expert Bill Cormier from the Wild Bird Crossing in Sturbridge.

8:30 am – 4:00 pm – Self-guided public nature trails are open for the season!  Trail Maps available at the Trailhead Kiosk.

9:00 am – 2:00 pm Visit the Booths of Local Non-Profit Organizations:

Opacum Land Trust – Join Opacum Land Trust Directors & Staff under the tent to learn more about the critters that call vernal pools home!  Participate in a pool activity where you can discover a critter, then learn about its life in a vernal pool.  Everyone who joins in the fun of this activity gets a prize.  At the activity table, there will also be information about who Opacum Land Trust is and what they do in our local communities to conserve and protect forests and land.               

Turtle Rescue League Join Directors & Staff from the Turtle Rescue League whose mission is to “keep turtles as a part of the future, not a thing of the past” under the tent for some Turtle Time! Learn about the challenges our native turtles face and how we can make a difference in the lives and conservation of these special wetland creatures.

Massachusetts Butterfly Club – Visit with members of the MBC inside of the Visitor Center for information on butterfly gardening, samples of guidebooks and publications from the North American Butterfly Association, view photos, and learn more about the club and their activities. 

Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation – Visit with the staff from the DCR inside of the Visitor Center to learn how to identify current and future threats to our forest and how the DCR Forest Health Program monitors and manages for them. Children’s activities and informational publications will be available.

The Norcross Wildlife Foundation – Meet the Executive Director in the Visitor Center to learn about our mission and what the Foundation is all about.  Check out our free raffle items and enter to win.  Be one of the first 250 visitors and receive a free native plant!

9:30 am – Help plant the Meadow – Join our Ecological Horticulturist, Leo Kenney and intern Summer Heschong, to help plant a new section of our entryway meadow! The area will be prepped but we need your help getting the plants in the ground. A great activity for adults or children, you will be able to watch the plants grow and flower for years to come!

10:00 am – Meet at the Trailhead Kiosk for a guided walk with our Ecological Horticulturist, Leo Kenney.

11:00 am – Tony’s Happy Valley Pizza Truck will be on-site and open for business. 

11:30 am – Help plant the Meadow (see description under 9:30 am)

1:00 pm – Meet at the Trailhead Kiosk for a guided walk with or Director of Applied Ecology, Dan Wilder.              

1:00 pm – Bats:  Winged Wonders, Presented by Bat Expert and Rehabilitator, Maureen Heidtmann, in the visitor center classroom space on the lower level (seating is limited).  An overview of bats of the world, with an emphasis on our local species, this presentation will cover the persisting myths and misconceptions about these fascinating creatures, the many roles’ bats play to ensure a healthy planet, the perils bats face in their struggle for survival, their amazing resilience and what we can do to help. You may even see a live bat or two!
Maureen is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator focusing on bats and has been for over 20 years. She also holds a Master Wildlife Conservationist certificate, and a permit from the USDA to keep non-releasable bats for educational purposes.  Over the years, Maureen has presented programs for children and adults at libraries, schools, nature centers and botanical gardens.  For the year 2016, she was the designated regional educator for bat Conservation International and has done voluntary field work for BCI.

1:30 pm – Help plant the Meadow – Join our Ecological Horticulturist Leonard Kenney and intern Summer Heschong, to help plant a new section of our entryway meadow! The area will be prepped but we need your help getting the plants in the ground.  A great activity for adults or children, you will be able to watch the plants grow and flower for years to come! 

Throughout the day in the Visitor Center:

  • Photo Exhibit by local photographer and NWF Volunteer May Adams
  • Free NWF Raffle – Enter to win one of five Bluebird Boxes, one of five Bat Houses, a NWF Swag Bag, a Bag of Books or a Van Tour for up to 10 people of the Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary not typically accessible to the public.
  • Children’s Hands on Activity – Create a Butterfly Life Cycle Wheel
  • Give Aways – get your free native plant (for the first 250 visitors) and a NWF magnet!
  • Nature Scavenger Hunt – Kids can grab a scavenger hunt at the Trailhead Kiosk, hit the trails to find all the items and once completed, return to the Visitor Center for a prize!

Visit the Trailside Museum and while you are there check out the Tractors and Trucks for a photo op.

1:55 pm – Raffle drawing (winners do not need to be present to win)

2:00 pm – Event ends but trails are accessible until 4:00 pm.   

4:00 pm – Trails close promptly at 4:00 pm.

Schedule and activities are subject to change.


April 22, 2023
9:00 am - 2:00 pm


Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary
Wales, MA + Google Map