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About Joe Ford Nature Center

Joe Ford Nature Center, nestled in a 14-acre wooded plot at the edge of Owensboro, Kentucky, is a place to help young and old alike commune with nature. Our mission is to provide educational programs to all interested parties in the Owensboro-Daviess County area and its surrounding counties that wish to commune with nature in the natural location of Joe Ford Nature Center or at their chosen sites with its core content being

inspired by Joe's resources and contributions to this community.


          The Joe Ford Park began from a 14-acre corn field that was leased to the City

of Owensboro by the state of Kentucky. 
          Joe Ford, whose lifetime was consumed with learning and teaching about

nature's wildlife, trees, and plants, began using this site for an outdoor classroom.

Native trees and plants covered this parkland. Joe was instrumental in developing

the nature trails, adding plants and trees himself to the existing natural collection,

and working with volunteers to raise funds for the indoor classroom facility. 
          The park was officially named and dedicated in Joe's honor on April 30, 1999.

We hope that the Joe Ford Nature Center, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, will provide opportunities for you to enjoy these wonderful gifts of nature and many contributions that Joe had shared with the public for 75 years.
          Maps may be picked up near the entrance so you can enjoy your very own nature walk. Many plants have been numbered and identified for you and listed with the map. 
          In the center are displays of nature-related items and numerous items of interest for sale in our gift shop. This is also where you can meet the Gecko, snakes and tarantula that call JFNC their home. Joe's writings of eight compilations of his newspaper articles and his other books are on sale in the gift shop as well.
          In JFNC, we proudly preserve many resources used by Naturalist Joe Ford himself before, during, and after his tenures as Founder/Director of the Owensboro Area Museum for 21 years, 14 years as the Daviess County Naturalist, and later as the naturalist for Joe Ford Library. Resources are catalogued and ready for use in the library and for check out. 
          Display cabinets contain artifacts about indians, trees, the old days, geology, ocean gems, Civil War, and others. A collection of cameras with original cost and current collector value await you. These can be purchased.
          Joe Ford Nature Center Director, Grace Ford, writes the Nature Notes column for the Messenger-Inquirer Wednesday Community section. This column discusses many interesting things about nature and also presents opportunities for the community to become involved at JFNC by announcing upcoming programs.

          For more information about the history of Joe Ford Nature Center, click here.

Joe Ford Nature Center is located in Owensboro, Kentucky on West 2nd Street (HWY 60 W) behind GRADD. Joe Ford Nature Park can be enjoyed at any time and serves as a trailhead for the Adkisson Greenbelt - West Owensboro Trail. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 9am and 3pm, stop in at Joe Ford Nature Center to visit our gift shop and the Joe Ford Library. Our wonderful volunteers can assist you. JFNC is also open to the community on Fridays from 9am to 12pm. JFNC may be visited on weekends by calling Grace Ford, Director at (270) 240-4041 and scheduling a visit. Special events are held on Sunday afternoons and our Junior Naturalists program sessions are held on Saturday mornings. Click here to find a specific list of programs with their dates. Programs may be scheduled by contacting Joe Ford Nature Center 270-302-2755, 270-344-0596or

Walking trails are open for your enjoyment 365 days a year during daylight hours.

Operating Hours:

Tuesday - Thursday 9am - 3pm

Friday 9am - 12pm