The best way to learn about animals is probably from the animals themselves. You can have the opportunity to do just that with Nature Matters, a new 501c3 not for profit offering educational programs featuring direct experiences with live animals and the outdoors for audiences of all ages.

Founder Jen Leahey has a lifelong passion for the natural world around her. Raised outside of Boston, Jen was the Assistant Curator of Live Animals at the Museum of Science and Coordinator of Farms at Old Sturbridge Village. Now, living in Lee with her husband and two young children, she has started Nature Matters. In a press release, Leahey says “Interactive programs spark interest in animals and nature. I’ve seen it firsthand when a person suddenly understands why animals are so important when they see them up close!”

Some of the Nature Matters animal educators that you can see up close include amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, including non-releasable wildlife such as foxes, skunks, tortoises and birds of prey. Each of the animals, and there are quite a few, are all authorized and licensed by the Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Programs are run at Leahey Farm in Lee and local venues such as schools, libraries and community centers. They’re designed to provide meaningful experiences and involve in-depth discussion while encouraging questions and exploration.

Rosemarie Borsody of the Lee Public Library is a fan, saying Nature Matters was “by far one of the best programs the Lee Library has hosted.” And Lizzy Brown, Humane Educator at Berkshire Humane Society, says the program will become a regular part of the Society’s Camp Humane.