More than 100,000 children from schools in Southern Arizona have been able to get closer to nature at the Cooper Center for Environmental Learning.

The center began in the 1960s as a living laboratory for the Tucson Unified School District, but it has morphed into a cooperative effort with the University of Arizona's College of Education.

On Saturday, March 29, the center is holding a public event to kick off its 50th anniversary.

Colin Waite is the center's director and Joan Gilbert is the director of the Regional Science Center for TUSD. Both of them recently visited Arizona Public Media's studios, where they spoke about the center for AZ Illustrated Nature.