Ribbon-cutting held for new Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo nature center
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday, May 5, 2023, for the opening of the new nature center at Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo.
The new facility replaces a nature center built in 1981. It offers park visitors more room to enjoy exhibits and learn about southeastern Minnesota's geology, flora, and fauna. It is an interactive learning space designed to educate, enrich, and excite nature lovers of all ages. Watch this video to check out the new facility as well as the amenities it offers the community.
"We are thrilled to offer visitors an opportunity to connect with the rich natural environment through our new nature center," said Olmsted County Parks Director Karlin Ziegler. "The new nature center is a destination in its own right, with educational exhibits and live animal displays."
Many aspects of the new nature center are tailored to learning with an exploratory play area teaching about southeastern Minnesota's karst geography and animals found on the landscape.
School groups will also find an enhanced experience with expanded classroom space with large glass windows allowing for views outside to observe plants and animals native to the region.
The building’s unique and innovative design uses materials in their true form. Some of the features include:
- Wood as both cedar siding on the exterior and as exposed structure on the interior.
- Local limestone is prominent throughout the interior and exterior.
- Mechanical and electrical systems are exposed instead of hidden by a ceiling.
“These design decisions allow nature center visitors to see more clearly how buildings function,” said Olmsted County Facilities and Building Operations Capital Projects Supervisor Alex Schrader. “Visitors can also watch the natural materials grow richer with time as they experience the changing of the seasons.”
"The new nature center is a testament to Olmsted County's commitment to preserving and promoting our natural resources while providing innovative and engaging educational opportunities for visitors of all ages," said Olmsted County Board of Commissioners Chair Gregg Wright. "We're excited to invite everyone to come out and experience the beauty and diversity of our natural environment through the new nature center.”
The project was funded by a Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails Legacy grant, private donations raised by Friends of Oxbow (FOX), and federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
"The outpouring of donor support empowers our community to unite and protect the natural world we all share,” said FOX President Seanne Buckwalter. "The new nature center will serve as a hub for education and exploration of habitats and wildlife in Olmsted County.”
Olmsted County's Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo will officially open the new nature center to the public on Friday, May 5, 2023, at 1 p.m.