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Protecting Northern Michigan's ​Water Resources

The Ruth Tucker Ayers Harris Watershed Discovery Center

Grand Opening June 1st, 2024

About the Watershed Discovery Center

Located at Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, the Watershed Discovery Center gives you a taste of Northern Michigan’s water resources in the heart of downtown Petoskey.
Experience the local watershed with hands-on activities, aquariums with native fish species, macroinvertebrate touch tank, and watershed simulator—see a juvenile sturgeon up close, manipulate the augmented reality sandbox to see how water flows across the topography, and get up-close-and-personal with the tiny critters that help determine the health of our waters. At the Watershed Discovery Center, you’ll learn that everyone lives in a watershed, and the things we do every day have an impact on our lakes, rivers, and streams.  
Discover all there is to explore in Northern Michigan’s watersheds!

About Ruth Tucker Ayers Harris

Ruth Tucker Ayers Harris, a 38-year member of the Watershed Council, passed away on December 27, 2021. As a watercolor artist and conservationist, Ruth loved nature—everything about it. She enjoyed bird watching and woodland hikes until the last weeks of her life. During her life, she gave Northern Michigan a nature preserve in her family’s name for young and old to explore. Upon her death, Ruth left a bequest to the Watershed Council to help ensure the future health of our waterways. We are proud to name the Watershed Discovery Center in her honor.


June – September
Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The first Saturday of the month, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
October – May
Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
For school or small group tours, please email info@watershedcouncil.org or call 231.347.1181. 
Closed for major holidays and scheduled maintenance days. 


Thanks to the support of our generous members and donors, admission is always free.
Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. 

Directions and Parking

The Ruth Tucker Ayers Harris Watershed Discovery Center is located at the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council main office at 426 Bay Street, downtown Petoskey. 
For downtown parking options, please visit the Downtown Petoskey Parking Guide.

Plan Your Visit

  • All ages are welcome! Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied and supervised by an adult. 
  • For the safety of the fish and other wildlife, dogs are not allowed in the Watershed Discovery Center.
  • Food is prohibited in the Watershed Discovery Center. Beverages in enclosed containers with a lid are allowed. 
  • For safety, we ask that strollers are parked outside the building. A bike rack is available for bikes or to lock personal equipment. 
  • For security reasons, only credit cards and checks are accepted at the gift shop.
  • Restrooms are available for visitors with a baby-changing table.

School and Small Group Tours

Beginning fall 2024, the Watershed Discovery Center will offer free tours for local schools and homeschoolers. Tours will last approximately 1.5 hours and will include educational information in the discovery center tailored for each age group, followed by a hands-on activity or craft to explore concepts learned during the tour. Due to space constraints, tours are best suited for groups of up to 12. Larger groups may be split to accommodate up to 20 students. Contact our office for more information or to schedule a tour.

Volunteer Oportunities

Volunteer opportunities are available for the Watershed Discovery Center including:
Weekend fish feeding & care
Docents (tour guides) 
Cleaning & disinfecting of exhibits and aquarium glass 
For more information on volunteer opportunities and training sessions, contact Andrea Coronado at acorondo@watershedcouncil.org, 231.489.7272 or fill out a volunteer form at https://watershedcouncil.org/about-us/join-our-team/volunteer/


426 Bay St, Petoskey, MI 49770