Our History

A Dedicated, Grass-Roots Effort 

The Flint Hills Learning Center began when a group of teachers came together with a shared interest – creating a map of the Flint Hills that developed a student's sense of pride, awareness, commitment, and knowledge of this special place. In 2015, the Flint Hills Discovery Center adopted the project, known at that time as the Flint Hills Map & Education Program, and a number of scientists, ranchers, authors, and regional experts joined the team.

Together, they designed a comprehensive map exhibit that defines the Flint Hills region and features the Tallgrass Prairie. The large-scale exhibit also includes educational side panels and original artwork. A group of sponsors joined in the effort, making it possible to place the exhibits in 183 schools and colleges across the region. Over 114,000 students and faculty view the maps annually.

Another important goal of the project was providing teachers with tools that inspire and deepen learning about the Flint Hills. Lesson plans, activities, and resources for all grade levels were developed with the help of several contributing teachers. A Teacher Action Team was also formed to guide curriculum development and offer feedback on how to best serve teachers and schools.

Leadership & Continuing the Legacy

Two dedicated community members, Emily Connell and Annie Wilson, provided key leadership to the creation and foundation of the Flint Hills Map & Education Program. In 2018, the program was recognized with the “Award for Excellence in Conservation and Environmental Education” from the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education.

Today, the program is managed by the Flint Hills Discovery Center and fulfills our educational mission to inspire a lifelong commitment to learning. The initiative has evolved into the Flint Hills Learning Center, a free online resource for educators and our regional community. The Learning Center continues to offer the map exhibits, provides educators with creative learning tools, and inspires learning of the region’s unique science, history and culture. These efforts are made possible through the generous support of the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation.