Covid-19 Response

The Highlands Center for Natural History is taking additional steps during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure the health and safety of staff, visitors and volunteers. We will continue to provide updates regarding our efforts as they concern our programs and site visitation through this incident.

Highlands Center for Natural History COVID-19 Update as 3/21/2020


The Highlands Center for Natural History (HCNH) continues to closely monitor the situation related to the COVID-19 virus. Now, with the first confirmed case in Yavapai County, we feel community transmission is very likely to occur. Our priority is to keep our guests, members, volunteers, and staff safe as we join the effort to slow the spread of the virus. We are following recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).

In response to recent developments, we have implemented the following procedures through Monday, May 11th .

  • All public programs have been cancelled.
  • The Grow Native! Plant Sale has been postponed. We will be exploring a future date or possible on-line sale. 
  • BirdBonanza will be rescheduled. 
  • The Benson Family Store remains closed.  
  • Beginning Saturday March 21st,  the main campus restroom and trail composting restrooms as well as public water fountains will all be closed due to reduced on-site personnel (we have no way to assure required on-going sanitization procedures).     
  • The James Family Discovery Gardens and Children’s Forest Play area are closed. 
  • The administrative offices at the Highlands Center are closed to the public. We will maintain a small staff presence, as needed, in the office. Please call the office or email us for any needs or questions that you may have. The majority of staff will work remotely from home.     

Our parking lot remains open and we invite visitors to enjoy the trails and access to the Prescott National Forest. Please be sure to bring your own supply of water and remember that our restroom facilities will NOT be open. Practice social distancing should you encounter others on the trail. Outdoor hand sanitizers are available.   Please continue to check our website and Facebook page for future updates.  

We know immersion in nature can boost the human immune system. Encounters with the natural world provide many physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits.  We encourage families to get outside and connect with nature! Our national forest is one of the safest places to recreate with your family right now. Check our daily “Fresh Air Moments” on Facebook for great activities to do with your children in the outdoors.  

Finally, we would like to thank all current and renewing members, especially those generous individuals who increase their financial support of the HCNH during this challenging time.  Thank you for partnering with the Highlands Center to help children and adults discover the wonders of Nature. 

Please take care of yourselves and stay healthy!

Highlands Center for Natural History Education Staff Going Digital with “Fresh Air Moments”

The Highlands Center For Natural History is committed to staying connected with you and the natural world. Everyday for as long as our public programs are postponed or cancelled, our education staff will be sharing place-based nature and science-related posts. These posts are intended to be interactive, shared, and to be a resource for all people. These “Fresh Air Moments” are our way of encouraging everyone to take a moment outside everyday – on your porch, in your backyard, walking on the sidewalk, or on local trails like here at the Highlands Center.

Click here to see our Fresh Air Moments!

Highlands Center for Natural History COVID-19 Update as 3/16 /2020


The Highlands Center continues to monitor the situation related to the COVID-19 virus. We continue to follow recommendations set forth by the CDC and Arizona Department of Health Services. Our first priority remains to keep our guests, members and staff safe, and join the community effort to slow the spread of the virus.
In response to recent developments, we have decided to implement the following procedures through April 17th:
  • Canceling all programs that are either primarily indoor-based or have the possibility to attract crowds over 50. While we will try to reschedule these events in the future, at this time we are unsure when or if this can happen. If you are registered for one of the canceled events you will be contacted directly by staff. We ask that you consider either receiving a voucher for a future program or donating your registration fee to lessen the economic impact of the virus on the Highlands Center. However, if you desire we will issue a full refund.
  • Closing the Benson Family Store.
  • Canceling all board, committee and volunteer meetings and engagement with the public.
  • Removing mobile tactile objects in the children’s Forest Play area.
  • Canceling School Field Trips. We will work in partnership with local schools districts in regard to future spring field trips and off-site Habitat lessons when schools reopen.
  • Setting up remote computer access for all our staff so if they feel ill they can stay home and continuing working.
Though the situation may change, our campus remains open and we invite visitors to enjoy the Discovery Gardens, trails, and other learning opportunities that our site provides. We are also exploring an option to have our education staff out on the campus to interact with families and guest from 10 AM to 2 PM daily. A more specific announcement on this will be coming shortly. As documented in the medical literature, immersion in nature can boost human immune systems and provide many other health benefits. So we encourage families to continue to get outside and connect with the natural world as it may even be helpful for you. Please continue to check our website and Facebook page for future updates and suggestions.
We continue to do the following:
  • Installing additional hand sanitizers in public locations.
  • Encouraging all staff and visitors to practice healthy habits and wash hands often.
  • Posting information for guests regarding best practice.
Please take the same preventative measures you’d take in any other public space. 
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily

Thank you so much for your support.

Dave Irvine
Executive Director
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