The Outdoor Discovery Center was founded in 1999, by Wildlife Unlimited of Allegan & Ottawa Counties, Inc. (a 20 year-old non-profit organization dedicated to restoring and perpetuating wildlife and habitat conservation and education) and the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (OAISD). Wildlife Unlimited and the OAISD partnered to create the ODC to service outdoor educational and recreational needs in West Michigan.
The 100 acre parcel of land purchased by Wildlife Unlimited was an ideal site because of its diverse ecosystems. Since the land was in a post-agricultural state, being left fallow for 30 years, one of the first projects the ODC undertook was to restore the land to its pre-agricultural, early pre-settled Michigan condition. Thanks to land acquisitions since 1999, the ODC Nature Preserve has six naturally occurring, distinct ecosystems on its 130 acre site including: ponds, remnant dunes, wetlands, meadows, remnant prairies, and lowland hardwood forests.