Nature Center

Front of building
Back of building

Project Proposal & Updates
Slated opening — 2018

Location: Oak Grove Park, 1603 Oak Grove Road, Hawarden IA, 51023 (east of Deer Run campground)

The Sioux County Conservation Foundation is raising financial support to build a Sioux County Nature Center.

The proposed $4.8 million project is to build a 12,000-square-foot facility on the east edge of Deer Run Campground at Oak Grove Park, which is on the western edge of the county.

The two-level nature center will be a home for naturalist or self-led school field trips, summer camps, nursing home visits, civic groups and families as they explore historical and wildlife displays.

Sioux County Conservation Foundation is partnering with Split Rock Studio in Minneapolis to design the exhibits.

Donations toward the project have exceeded the halfway mark. The Enhance Iowa board indicated it would make a grant donation once the project reaches 90 percent of its funding goal.

A nature center’s mission is to build lasting relationships between people and the natural world. Because of that, such a facility enhances the quality of life by:

  • Providing hands-on science exhibits and educational programs – this is a first step in learning what nature has to offer, is to encourage families and individuals to continue that exploration outside the nature center’s doorstep. Nature inspires creativity, integrates all senses.
  • Encouraging exercise. The closer kids are to green spaces, the more likely they are to run around outside.
  • Providing a safe place for outdoor recreation. A nature center can provide a location for parents to feel comfortable having their children explore, with opportunities to discover things they may not otherwise encounter.
  • Being a place for retreat, restoration or relaxation – parents or grandparents will feel comfortable bringing their children or grandchildren to the nature center, they can take in the scenery from the back deck or venture out on the trails around the nature center to find a piece of serenity individually or with their families.
  • Building community and strengthening family ties – a nature center will be a place for people of different races and ethnicities to meet or gather under a common interest, and doing activities together can develop deeper connections with family.
  • Raising interest in the environment. Childhood exposure to natural settings is associated with a greater interest in environmental stewardship — and ultimately with pursuing professional careers and adult hobbies connected to nature and the environment. Therefore, a nature center becomes a valuable investment helping county residents, especially our youth, appreciate what their county’s natural environment has to offer.
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    Nature Center - $2.39 of $4.8 million raised