On Thursday February 22 Nova Childers, a Teacher Naturalist at Abbott’s Mill Nature Center in Milford, DE, visited students at Morris Early Childhood to educate children on animals and their surroundings. Visiting Ms. Andrews class in the morning, Childers read children a book about animals during the winter while reinforcing pre-kindergarten classroom material like shapes and sounds.
Childers explained to the children that although all animals need food, water, air and shelter to survive, animals deal with the months of winter in many different ways. Showing replicas of the animals to the classroom, she explained that animals like butterflies migrate, foxes and owls stay active and turtles hibernate. Each finds its own solution to meet the challenges of winter in a different way to ensure they are prepared for Spring.
Delaware Nature Society is celebrating their 37th Anniversary of Abbott’s Mill Nature Center, a hidden gem of southern Delaware nestled just 4 miles outside of Milford. Abbott’s encompasses 483 acres of towering upland forests, restored native meadows, pristine ponds fed by sinuous streams, mystic Atlantic white cedar swamps and bogs, saltmarsh and wetland preserves, and Delaware’s only preserved, working grist mill.
What is now know as Abbott’s Mill Nature Center first began in 1795, when a stone grist mill powered by an abreast shot water wheel was built. In the early 1900s, the mill underwent an addition to add roller mills, allowing for the full production of corn, wheat, barley, and oats. During this addition, the mill’s power source was changed from water wheel to water turbine.
In 1919, Mr. Ainsworth Abbott purchased the property. He operated the mill singlehandedly until 1963, when he sold the facility to Howard and Frances Killen. The Killens, wishing to preserve its historic and cultural importance, decided to sell the mill property to the Delaware Board of Game & Fish Commissioners (known now as the Division of Fish & Wildlife). A multi-year renovation project started in 1976, with the goal to restore the mill to a preserved, working order. Part of the renovation project included the building of a small classroom facility, which is now our current Visitor Center. In 1980, Delaware Nature Society leased the property as its 3rd state-wide facility. In 1981, Abbott’s Mill Nature Center was officially commissioned.
Over the past 37 years, Abbott’s Mill Nature Center has grown from its humble 27 acre beginnings to include 483 acres of conserved lands throughout Sussex County, including Blair’s Pond Nature Preserve, Isaacs and Isaacs-Greene Preserves, and Marvel Saltmarsh Preserve. Environmental education and public visitation programs at the site have reached over 35,000 people since our beginning, further advancing our mission to connect people to the natural world.