The Nature Explore Classroom at St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Towne Park
Re-opening in the Spring of 2012, Towne Park will be the 10th park in the St. Charles County Parks system. The 110 acre park was donated to the county by Betty Towne.
The Nature Explore Classroom was developed as an interactive place for children and families to re-connect with their natural surroundings. The concept plan provided by Dimensions Educational Research Foundation was taken to reality by incorporating educational concepts adopted from Nature Explore workshops and The Learning With Nature Idea Book. Features were kept open to lend the classroom to self-exploration and to allow children to explore at their own pace with an imaginative spirit.
Plantings, gravel, mulch, stones, cedar logs and split rail fencing are used as borders to separate areas. Wood features are made of eastern red cedar which or pressure treated wood. These items have been treated with a water-based wood preservative and will be maintained yearly. Drain tiles have been added where standing water was a factor around constructed features. Low maintenance buffalo grass and native vegetation were planted which require little to no supplemental water, is insect and disease resistant and requires no fertilizer.
Many materials were donated from other parks or harvested onsite during woodland, prairie and savanna restoration. Red cedar logs, which are naturally rot resistant, were used as whole logs for sign posts, fence posts, balance beams, stump steps, tree cookie flooring, benches and building blocks. Additional cedar logs were milled by a portable saw mill onsite. This material was used to build a bridge, Leopold benches, ramp, building blocks and area signs.
The sand play area has a unique log cabin constructed around it. In order to maintain visibility inside the cabin, chinking has been left out and the roof left open.
A group of volunteers from the Confluence Chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalists as well as other environmental groups, artists and local schools have made this Nature Explore Classroom come to life.