If you are looking for a fun road trip directly into nature, then you might consider a visit to a newly renovated facility south of Gretna.
Thanks to a recent renovation, the Schramm Education Center at the Schramm Park State Recreation Area is now one of the largest fresh water aquariums in the region. "I like to think of the building as a nature center, a science center, an aquarium, and a children's discovery center," Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Outdoor Education Specialist Amber Schiltz said. "The original Ak-Sar-Ben aquarium was built years ago, and so it was a great place for families to go, but it hadn't been renovated for a long time, and so this was definitely needed."
The size of the aquarium has been tripled. "We went from a 7,000 gallon aquarium to a 21,000 gallon aquarium," Schiltz said. "Instead of just having a sturgeon tank, now are doing ecosystem model tanks. So it's a cold water stream tank, or a lake tank, or a river tank. That's how the exhibits are set up now. We have more than 60 species of fish, reptiles and amphibians all from Nebraska. We don't have sharks or crocodiles, but the cool thing is every animal you see here is from Nebraska. It's like you are meeting your nature neighbors."
The aquarium at the education center isn't the only attraction. There is also a virtual reality mountain bike ride, where you feel like you are riding through the woods. There is a makers space, where families can make something to take home with them. And there is a spot where kids can slide through a tree and into a camping area indoors. "We like to call it the Wonder Woodland," Schiltz said. "Kids are drawn to it, and there's a whole area where they can pretend to camp and fish."
The center also offers classrooms. Education specialists say they are having 3 or 4 programs a day in the classrooms, and so they are also getting plenty of use.