As with most things that one treasures, a certain amount of suffering, disappointment, frustration, and hard work are necessary for the final achievement to have any satisfaction. The evolution of the Mary K. Oxley Nature Center did not just become a reality because everybody welcomed it with open arms, but rather grew from the embryo of an idea to its reality through a gauntlet of delays, growing pains, and related problems. Perseverance characterizes the success of the story and the following short history clearly shows the effort and time required to achieve the desired.
1972 - Phil Nelson, a citizen with the idea for a nature center, made overlay maps and a slide presentation to the Tulsa Park Board. The idea was endorsed and $5,600 in the 1972 Park Bond Issue was marked for security of the "Mohawk Nature Center." Shortly after passing of the bond issue Mr. Nelson left Tulsa and the project became dormant.
March, 1974 - Tulsa Audubon Society (TAS) President Dick Sherry appeared before the Park Board to express the interest of the Society in the project and requested the funds be expended. The Park Board endorsed the project but did not know when the funds would become available.
June, 1974 - A workshop on Nature Centers was conducted by the TAS to explain what the concept was.
July, 1974 - A member of the National Audubon Society (NAS) Nature Center Planning Division visited Tulsa to inspect the Mohawk area.
Sept., 1974 - The TAS again asked the Park Board for the funds from the 1972 Bond Issue and the Board said that they again endorsed the idea but funds were not available at this time. It was also pointed out that the amount originally designated would only accomplish approximately one-half of the job due to the high inflation since the passing of the Bond Issue.
Nov.-Dec., 1974 - The Nature Center Planning Division of National Audubon was asked to prepare an estimate of our costs for developing a master plan for the nature center. The master plan cost was presented to the Park Board. Again the idea was endorsed, but the funds were not available.
Jan., 1975 - The realization that if the nature center was ever to be a reality it was going to have to get support outside City Hall prompted the formation of Mohawk Nature Center Development Inc. (MNCDI). This group of interested Audubon members and community leaders arranged an agreement with the City to allow MNCDI to fund the master plan and develop the nature center with the City approving the project development, but not assuming any financial obligation.
March, 1975 - Without a penny in the bank MNCDI signed a contract with the Nature Center Planning Division of National Audubon for the master plan with payment of $8,700 due on completion of the plan.
April, 1975 - the field work was conducted by National Audubon and the master was scheduled for a rough draft copy to be provided in the fall.
April, 1975 - MNCDI began trying to raise funds to pay for the plan.
Aug., 1975 - Rough draft copies of the master plan were circulated to the City, MNCDI, and Park Board members for comment and returned to National Audubon for preparation of the final draft.
Jan., 1976 - The master plan was delivered to MNCDI.
Feb., 1976 - The plan was made public at the Park Board meeting and a Public hearing was scheduled for March.
March, 1976 - Plan was approved by the Park Board.
April, 1976 - The plan was approved by the City Commission.
March, 1977 - Mr. and Mrs. John T. Oxley contribute $200,000 to implement the improvements called for by the plan.
April, 1977 - The Tulsa Junior League offered to undertake a volunteer program in conjunction with the nature center. The League also agreed to provide partial support for the nature center naturalist's salary with the city providing the balance.
May, 1977 - The search for a naturalist began.
Sept., 1977 - Robert G. Jennings hired as naturalist.