Musings from the Meadows
Welcome to Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center’s inaugural blog, Musings from the Meadows! We will be using this platform to update the community and interested parties in all things related to the Center, ecology, environmental education and science learning. Today I would like to start by announcing our updated mission statement, which will guide our activities and growth over the coming years.
Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring and empowering all people, including those with minimal access to nature, to engage actively with their environment and continued learning.
To help fulfil this mission, we want to focus on additions and improvements that advance the visitor experience and increase the diversity of offerings for our long-term patrons. As you know, Oxbow Meadows ELC is always free for the casual visit, review of our exhibits, or hikes along our trails. The majority of our funding for staff and the facilities comes from Columbus State University and Columbus Water Works. Through field trips, special events and the generous donations of our visitors we raise the funds we need to expand our offerings and care for our animals.
I would like to highlight three projects that are ongoing at Oxbow:
- Discovery Forest at Oxbow. This project is transforming an area overgrown with exotic plants into a nature play area for our younger visitors. Frequent, unstructured play in informal outdoor settings boosts the cognitive, creative, physical, social and emotional development of children. Therefore, development of this area is a priority for us at Oxbow. Already through private donations, we have installed oversized animal replicas that visitors can climb on, a water table that allows you to manipulate dams and see how these structures impact flow, a compost bin that young hands can spin and a decomposition bin, where curious minds can “mine” for worms. We have plans to provide additional structures, play elements, water features and signage, but need to secure funds for continued expansion.
- Tree Trail. Oxbow is in the early stages of developing a tree trail along the walkways adjacent to the Center and along an approximate 1-mile stretch of the RiverWalk. The goal is to identify existing trees/shrubs, plant more that are representative of different ecological communities in Georgia, and to provide signage that identifies the plant and talks a bit about the environmental value and how wildlife and we get value from its products. You will be able to take a hike and learn something about your local environment, without even getting your feet dirty – unless you really want to.
- The third is more of an exhibit than a project, but after much effort, we have secured an endangered eastern indigo snake that is now on display at Oxbow. Do not worry; while it is an endangered species, it was captive breed by an individual specializing in this species. Come out, see a snake that you are unlikely to see in the wild due to its rarity, and learn about the role this species plays in the environment.
We have also started an “Adopt a Critter” program that allows you to support Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center at various contribution levels – Friend, Guardian, Defender and Ambassador – with the proceeds being used to support the health, feeding, and welfare of our animals. For more information you can check out our web site at https://oxbow.columbusstate.edu/adpot-a-criter/
Look for more posts that will include summaries of interesting environmental findings, upcoming events at Oxbow, and ways that you can become involved in learning about and protecting our natural resources.
Until then, remember “The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant:
What good is it?” (Aldo Leopold).
Dr. Mike Dentzau, Executive Director