Lowry Nature Center

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Resource Types: 
EE Site

Physical Resources
Lowry Nature Center is a beautiful 10,000 square-foot prairie-style building nestled in the middle of the 3,700-acre Carver Park Reserve. The Lowry Nature Center was the first truly public nature center in the Metro area. It was built in 1969 through the efforts of the Metropolitan Nature Center Corporation (started by Goodrich and Louisa Lowry) and Hennepin Parks. The building's layout makes hosting large groups of students possible but it is also an intimate setting for smaller audiences. Timeless architecture is one of Lowry Nature Center's biggest strengths. The expansive windows connect the building with the park and the natural building materials create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The large stone fireplace in the lobby is an attractive focal point and popular meeting and resting area, especially in cold weather seasons.

The exhibits change seasonally and focus on local flora and fauna and phonological events. There is a kid's area in the lower level where reading, coloring, and creating puppet shows is encouraged. Lowry is home to several live, native reptile and amphibians on display in the classrooms as well as two raptors used in education programs.

The interpretive area around the nature center encompasses 250 acres with more than six miles of hiking trails that weave through many diverse natural communities including several trails with boardwalks through wetland habitats. Native plants and wildlife abound in the park's lakes, prairie, woodlands and marsh areas. The park is home to many animals including over 150 species of birds, beaver, deer, fox, coyote, muskrats, bats, and turkeys. Lowry Nature Center is connected to the more than 10 miles of bike trails and 13 miles of cross-country ski trails in Carver Park Reserve which makes the center a popular stop for all park users.

The Lowry Nature Center interpretive area is also home to "Habitats" a unique outdoor play area with structures that mimic habitats found Carver Park and encourage creative play such as sliding like an otter and visiting the beaver lodge. Park guests can also enjoy and learn native gardening skills at the butterfly garden, rain garden and prairie garden areas. Young children are encouraged to explore, dig, build and arranges in the Nature Play Area in the 'backyard'. Families can enjoy downhill sliding on the hill next to the center.

Lowry Nature Center education staff is responsible for programming at the Historic Grimm Farmhouse. The fully restored, National Historic Registry, 1870s home of Julianna and Wendelin Grimm interprets 1870s farm life and the story of Grimm alfalfa. The house features artifacts from the era and interpretive displays telling the story of Grimm and the house.

Who Are We
The Nature Center is staffed by professional educators, acquainted with the rhythms of nature and dedicated to revealing some of nature's mysteries. Many visitors return for programs time and time again because of the knowledgeable and passionate staff. One of Lowry's greatest strengths is its diverse staff. Each of the naturalists has a unique strength that supports our diverse program offerings yet all staff are skilled at teaching audiences of all ages and abilities.

The naturalist staff perform numerous essential duties such as planning programs and events, working with teachers to design classes to meet specific learner outcomes, maintaining seasonal exhibits, caring for the captive animals, and interacting with park visitors. The daily operation of the center is also dependent on the professional administrative staff who complete all school group reservations, maintain records and calendars, sell passes and merchandise, dispense trail advice and serve as the friendly face that so many people come in to see over and over again.

Lowry Nature Center is also fortunate to have a dedicated corps of volunteers that support programming and operations. The volunteers range from youth to seniors, some come weekly and others come once yearly but all serve a valuable role for the center. Lowry also works with student volunteers from local schools, scout troops, and Eagle Scout candidates.

What We Do
Lowry Nature Center offers a wide variety of programs and activities that directly support the Three Rivers Park District mission and serve the diverse audiences that visit the park. Program topics focus on natural history, cultural history, and outdoor recreation. Lowry staff also conducts 1870's MN history programming at the Grimm Farmhouse and a unique archeology and pre-history program at Lake Minnetonka Regional Park. Group programs with naturalists for schools, home-schoolers, youth agency groups, seniors and community groups represents the greatest percentage of programs at Lowry. There is a grade specific, MN state education standard linked set of programs available for groups but all programs are customizable based on learner outcomes of the specific visiting group.

Public programs are offered for all ages and audience types. Family programs are regulars on weekends and several series such as raptors in the yard and bird banding attract large audiences and are an opportunity to introduce the park to new users. Lowry has also had great success with programs offered for specific audiences. Preschool programs, women's programs, birthday parties, and summer camps have all seen great growth and success.

Equipment rentals are a large part of winter business. Rentals of downhill sleds, snowshoes and kicksleds provide family fun opportunities and get new potential program users to the Center.

Topic Areas: 
Outdoor Education
Outdoor Recreation
Target Audience: 
Grades Pre K-12
Early Childhood
Geographic Location: 
Library loan: 
Is training required?: 
Contact(s) or order information.: 

Lowry Nature Center
Three Rivers Park District
Carver Park Reserve
7025 Victoria Drive
Victoria, MN 55386