Oxbow Park Nature Center getting upgrade through grant funding

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(ABC 6 News) – After nearly two years of planning, fundraising, and construction, the new nature center at Oxbow Park is nearing its completion.

Construction is taking place all over inside the new nature center.

The new nature center will serve as a hub for the community and will be able to extend the park’s programs, activities, and education impact beyond what it is currently able to offer.

The nonprofit, Friends of Oxbow, was recently awarded $100K of grant funding by Mayo Clinic to support their fundraising efforts for the park. Funding will go towards classroom technology, biome exhibits and zoo animals in the new center

RELATED: Friends of Oxbow receive $100K in grant funding to support new Nature Center campaign

“The current nature center was not providing adequate space to do naturalist programs and outreach that they wanted to do with the community,” Friends of Oxbow President Seanne Buckwalter said.

Buckwalter stated this is due to the higher population of people visiting the park. It makes it more difficult for interactive events.

Making the nature center more interactive is the goal. They even added details that are meant to resemble the area where Oxbow Park is located.

Tim Buri works in maintenance at Oxbow Park. One of the details he points out is the shape of the blue on the ground is meant to showcase rivers of Olmsted County, including the exact location of Oxbow Park.

“This is the river, the blue is the whole Olmsted County, and here is where we are right now if you were to put it in perspective. When you come into the park, this is the Oxbow that the park is named after,” Buri said.

Even when walking in the front door, there will be a noticeable difference.

There are more bathrooms and even exhibits upon walking in. Buckwalter did note that the lack of bathrooms was a big complaint with the old nature center.

This is critical due to the small amount of active board members at Friends of Oxbow.

Funding was also tough to find due to the ongoing pandemic. As for construction, the biggest challenge has been finding certain supply materials for construction.

Luckily, with the help of the Mayo Clinic and several others who have donated, significant progress has been made. A donor wall is expected to be added in the future.

For more information on how to donate or on the nature center itself, visit HERE.