Enjoy hiking, fishing and wildlife
Who would have thought that an empty lot of land would be transformed into an integral part of a city? But that is exactly what happened in Chandler with the Veteran’s Oasis Park and Environmental Education Center. Ariane Francis, who oversees the Center and facilitates programs throughout the park, shares insight on how the park came to be and the many amazing programs the Center provides.
An unexpected beginning
Several years ago, the city of Chandler was looking for a way to store the city’s reclaimed water. Using an empty property owned by the City of Chandler and occupied now by the Municipal Utilities Department, Police Department (with a station located at the park), and Recreation Division, the city created a park with storage basins to solve this problem. After breaking ground in 2006, it took just two years for the city to gain their beloved park.
Francis, who took on her role as overseer four years ago, explains that working at the park and Center brings her a new adventure each day. Along with her staff of five, Francis plans different programs and events as well as organizes learning experiences such as field trips and classes. Having worked with recreation centers in Chandler over the past 12 years, Francis explains that she has found a “passion turned into a career.” With valuable insight, Francis is able to create the best experience possible for the park’s guests.
A place to love and learn from
With 113 acres, a beautiful lake, miles of hiking trails, tranquil pavilions, and much more, the park attracts many people, as well as a large amount of wildlife. Guests can try to reel in a big catch at the lake or enjoy hiking the 4.5 miles of trails. Those who prefer relaxing strolls can take the self-guided solar tour. Guests can simply walk around the lake which is surrounded by podiums informing them about the solar system. Reservable pavilions are available for guests to spend a leisurely afternoon. The park also hosts an outdoor amphitheater where visitors can enjoy concerts and shows.
The Environmental Education Center is home to a variety of learning opportunities. The Center’s classes focus on improving both the visitors’ well-being and their knowledge of the environment that they are in. Visitors can take classes on yoga, plants, animals and minerals. Francis herself has enjoyed bringing her daughter to the center’s “Meet the Creatures” class, where participants can interact with local animals.
Visitors also have the opportunity to go on field trips coordinated by the Center, an offering that has only been around for about a year. These excursions allow participants to engage in a non-traditional learning experience. Instead of just reading about Arizona’s rocks and minerals, they can actually take part in a digging excursion. Schools also have the opportunity to participate in field trips to the Center. The Center allows public, charter and home-schooled students to take a break from their usual learning environment and have the chance to take part in a hands-on experience. Francis remarks that it is “amazing to see the kids excited for learning and [getting the chance to be] scientists.”
Fun for All
The park and Center provide an environment that encourages learning for all ages. The park is located at 4050 E. Chandler Heights Rd. in Chandler. To learn more, visit ChandlerAZ.gov or call (480) 782-2890 for more information.