A new gem of a place, Twin Pines Conservation Education Center, held its grand opening Saturday, April 19. It’s in Winona, Mo., on Highway 60 in southern Shannon County—a wonderful spot in the Ozarks amid the beautiful rivers, hills and forests that make that part of the world so unique. Missouri Conservation Department staff from the area and beyond had done an incredible job of pitching in the week before to finish trails, mulch new plants and set up extra tents for special displays of historic Ozark skills.
I walked the outdoor trail past the old up-and-down sawmill, the shingle mill, the log cabin and the 1910 schoolhouse (not restored yet but will be soon), and then inside to see the displays on the plants and animals that make this area home. I can’t decide which was most fun to see—you’ll have to come and choose for yourself.
Like our other Missouri Department of Conservation nature centers, Twin Pines has something to offer a casual visitor who just drops in as well as programs that schools, families and individuals can sign up for ahead of time.
It’s hard to imagine the changes that have taken place in these Ozark hills in the past 120 years, but a visit to Twin Pines gives you a good start. Unlike some new visitor centers, this one already has roots to the land and people. At the opening celebration, I met a woman who taught in the schoolhouse in 1945. Others recalled grandparents who worked at an old mill nearby which was described in one display.
Melanie Carden-Jessen is the manager of Twin Pines. She, along with the staff and volunteers, have created a truly welcoming place. I hope you get a chance to head on over for a visit. There’s a lot to enjoy.