Calling all young naturalists! Located within our Gift Shop, the Nature Exchange is part of an international program that allows young collectors to trade naturally found items such as shells, rocks, bark, pinecones and more.
The specially-trained Nature Exchange staff not only helps collectors learn more about their exchanged items, but also all of the wondrous artifacts that are part of the Preserve's own collection, including rocks, minerals, plants and insects from around the Southwest and the world.
The Nature Exchange encourages responsible and ethical collecting. We cannot take items from vertebrates (animals with backbones), with the exception of a shed snakeskin or shark teeth. We do not accept bird feathers, nests or eggs.
We cannot accept items that come from protected lands or water areas (like parks and rivers), damage the environment, come from endangered or threatened species, come from the Springs Preserve site, or are in the Springs Preserve's live animal collection.
Most visitors trade rocks, fossils, dead insects, leaves or shells. We only accept natural items that have not been worked on by people. We will accept casts of animal tracks. All insects or marine animals must be dead, dried out, and have died of natural causes.
The exchange process
- Bring it in and share: Bring in your collected items and describe what the object is, where it came from and why it is special. Be sure to clean up your items before you bring them in, and remember to limit your trading to your five best items each day.
- The exchange: Trade in your items for points. More points are awarded based on information provided and the uniqueness and quality of the item. Additional points are given for researching the items, so the more you know, the more you are rewarded. The Nature Exchange will also accept information in the form of reports, photographs, stories, etc.
- The account: Use your points to immediately "buy" other items, or save them up in the Nature Exchange computer trading data bank for future trades in the Exchange's constantly rotating collection.
- Take it home: Take your newly acquired items home to add to your permanent collection, or bring them back in to trade for other items at a later date.
Nature Badge Program
The Nature Exchange Badge Program encourages kids to continue the journey of discovery. Participants can earn a badge on a new discipline each month, with topics ranging from archaeology to oceanography.
- Who can participate? Anyone can participate, and it's free for members or with general admission!
- How do I get started? Stop by the Nature Exchange each month to pick up a badge booklet. Each new booklet will be handed out for just one month only, and they will not be available online, so don't miss any! Complete all of the tasks in the booklet to earn the badge. Do your very best and take your time. There's no time limit for finishing the booklet.
- How do I turn in my projects and earn my badge? When you are completely finished with all of the tasks, have a grownup call 702-822-7759 to set up an appointment with a Springs Preserve staff member. The appointment will take 20-30 minutes and must be made at least a week in advance. When you come for your appointment, bring all of the parts of your project and be ready to talk about what you learned and created. If the staff member feels that you haven't quite finished all of the requirements, you will be asked to work on it some more and come back. But if you've done a great job, you'll earn your badge that day!
- What do I get for completing my project? You earn a different badge for every booklet, and you get to have your name displayed in the Nature Exchange for a month!
- Do I get to keep my projects? Yes. The Springs Preserve will not keep any of the projects. They are yours to treasure.
Badge in a Day
Earn your Badge in a Day! Pick up your badge worksheet in the Nature Exchange and answer questions about each of the exhibits you visit at the Springs Preserve. Your completed answer sheet can then be redeemed for a special Springs Preserve badge!
Mineral of the Month
From amethyst to zinc, come check out the Mineral of the Month at the Nature Exchange! You’ll learn about the different uses of minerals and examine specimens under a microscope. Then put your knowledge to the test to earn a sample of that mineral to take home!
Crack a Geode and Mining Camp
The State of Nevada is such a geological wonderland that the discovery of crystals and minerals is a rich resource for study and fun at the Nature Exchange.
Experience the thrill of mining your own minerals, gems and fossils at our Mining Camp activity, where you can prospect for sluice box treasure.
At our Crack a Geode station, break open a jumbo rock to discover the sparkling surprise inside, and take your treasure home!