prairie grass
Snowman and lighted arch for winter event
January 31, 2019
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Meet Friends of Oxbow

From Friends of Oxbow

Large bends in rivers are often called “oxbows” due to their resemblance to oxen harnesses. Because of that, the oxbow around the main picnic area of the park inspired the park’s name when the first 465 acres of land were purchased in 1967. To protect land from future development, 107 more acres were purchased in 1974, followed by a donation of 52 acres by Dr. and Mrs. Donald. Those contributions brought the total acreage of the park to 624. In 1969, John Gilbertson, a regional game warden, donated native Minnesota animals to the park, resulting in the creation of the zoo. The zoo continued to grow from there, and today it complements the nearly 8 miles of hiking and ski trails, a camping area, picnic areas, a nature center, and a nature-based playground.

In 1982, as the zoo and park continued to grow, a small group of people decided to go the extra mile and create Friends of Oxbow (FOX), a non-profit organization dedicated both to raising money for and bringing attention to Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo. A few popular events sponsored by Friends include the Annual Spring Festival and Zoodazzle in December. Their presence in Oxbow continues to grow each year, and their support has raised $750,000, as well as tens of thousands of volunteer hours.

The members of FOX wear many hats, but the main duties they assist with include the following.

Park and Zoo

  • Providing funds for zoo and nature center exhibits, renovations, and new projects
  • Trail development
  • Zoo animal purchases
  • Audiovisual and display materials
  • Office equipment and furnishings
  • Providing funds for natural playscape
  • Computer equipment

Personnel and Volunteers

  • Sponsoring interns and a seasonal employee
  • Teaching programs
  • Organizing speakers for events
  • Advocating for park issues
  • Fundraising events and promotions
  • Designing exhibits and signage
  • Helping with park maintenance and upkeep

Content contributed by: Seanne P. Buckwalter, Friends of Oxbow

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