View All Posts

May 26

Two programs emphasize experiential learning, including select JCPRD facilities

Posted on May 26, 2022 at 4:10 PM by Becky Burnside

As a summer gets under way, it’s a good time to highlight two separate promotional efforts which give area residents added incentives to get out and visit some specific JCPRD facilities.

The programs are the Sunflower Summer promotion, which for a second year is being offered by the Kansas Department of Education, and the annual Passport to Adventure program presented by the Kansas City Interpretive Site Coalition. JCPRD facilities involved include the Johnson County Museum located inside the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center at 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, Theater in the Park’s outdoor location in Shawnee Mission Park with a separate entrance at 7710 Renner Road, Shawnee, and the Ernie Miller Nature Center at 909 N. Kansas 7 Highway, Olathe.

Sunflower Summer partners with cultural sites around the state to provide a summer of enrichment for pre-K to 12th grade students in the state of Kansas - and their parents and legal guardians, too! The program is designed to provide a wide variety of ways for families to get out, explore something new, and enjoy time together. Kansas families can visit more than 70 sites including museums, zoos, historic landmarks, and more for free. This year’s Sunflower Summer promotion runs from Saturday, May 28, through Sunday, Aug. 14. Kansas students and their parents/legal guardians are provided one free visit to each of the participating attractions.

“Visiting museums, viewing art, going to the theater, and the like are great fun, but they are also incredible educational experiences,” said Johnson County Museum Director Mary McMurray. “They light sparks in kids’ minds, prompt them to ask why and how questions, and help them make connections. These experiences can certainly help prepare students for a new school year, and really for a lifetime of learning. How great…. you can visit for free!”   

For more about museum exhibits, programs, and events, go to The Theatre in the Park’s outdoor season begins June 3 and includes five Broadway-style musicals through Aug. 5, presented at the complex on the northeast corner of Shawnee Mission Park (note that the closure of the Renner Road Bridge over Interstate 435 for the entire summer will make it more challenging to get to the theatre from the north). For more information TIP, go to JCPRD’s Ernie Miller Nature Center in Olathe is part of the Sunflower Summer program as well but offers free admission all the time.

Get started by going to, select the correct app store, then download the app to your phone. Follow the prompts to create an account as a parent/guardian, add children, explore experiences, claim your tickets, and set off on your Sunflower Summer adventure!

Since 1994, the Passport to Adventure Program has been introducing participants to “hidden gems” in the Kansas City metro area. Among these sites is JCPRD’s Ernie Miller Nature Center, the Johnson County Museum, and the Lanesfield Historic Site. The program is free, although some sites charge regular admission to their facilities. Those wishing to take part in Passport to Adventure can pick up a free printed passport at any of the participating sites. 

The goal of the program is to increase community awareness about historical and natural interpretive/educational sites in the greater Kansas City area. Participants often visit sites they were previously unaware of, especially sites that are on the other side of the metro area from where they live. The passport can also serve as a guidebook for future years when looking for activities in Kansas City.

Participants have until Oct. 31 to visit 12 of the 22 sites in order to be entered into the drawing for some amazing nature and history prize packages. 

A complete current list of participating sites, which includes KC metro area nature centers, museums, gardens, historical sites, and education centers, can be found at