Resting between the Keeper and the Indian Museum lays the Outdoor Learning Center. The center includes a full-size tipi, travois (which were used to carry supplies), alongside native edible and medicinal gardens that illustrate how Plains Indian families lived in the past.
The garden features gourds, which were a versatile food source for American Indians, and also contains a Three Sisters garden which grows corn, beans and squash. The center features a variety of the same Plains grasses that grew on the prairies in the 1850s.
The tipi which stands 20 feet tall, is a well-known habitat for some Plains Indian tribes. During construction of the tipi, which can use as many as 18 poles, it is customary that the entrance face east towards the rising sun. Buffalo hides were typically used for tipis, but today heavy canvases are used.
The center is also home to an outdoor classroom where students learn about life on the Plains. The area is one of 206 official State of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site (OWLS). The OWLS program tries to help increase student exposure to native wildlife and plant communities throughout the state.
The Outdoor Learning Center is open May 1 until mid-November.