On May 19, 2021, Olmsted County hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for construction of a new nature center at Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo. The current nature center, built in the early 1980s, is no longer sized to accommodate the multitude of guests that visit each year.
“Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo are beloved treasures in our community, and we’re so pleased to be building a new nature center there to help us better serve all the park’s visitors and continue connecting people to nature,” said Olmsted County Parks Director Karlin Ziegler. “About 400,000 people visit Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo each year and those numbers continue to increase by the thousands. Having a new nature center space will allow us to keep up with demand for years to come.”
The new nature center will nearly triple in size, providing more exhibits and interactive learning areas as well as a larger programming and event space. It will showcase the unique natural features of southeastern Minnesota with educational exhibits, exploratory play, live animal displays, and wildlife viewing areas. It is expected to open in the fall of 2022.
The groundbreaking event featured the following speakers:
- Minnesota State Senator Dave Senjem
- Olmsted County Parks Director Karlin Ziegler
- Olmsted County Commissioner Jim Bier
- Olmsted County Commissioner Gregg Wright
- Friends of Oxbow Park President Seanne Buckwalter
A new video is available that helps explain the vision of the new nature center and its features.
The Oxbow Park nature center project received $2.1 million in 2020 from the state’s Parks and Trails Legacy Fund and is on the short list to receive another $192,000. The overall project cost is $7.5 million, and Olmsted County is covering $3.5 million. The Friends of Oxbow Park organization is working hard to build support for the new nature center and has set an ambitious fundraising goal of $1 million. If you’d like to donate, visit the Friends of Oxbow website.