Apr 29

Beyond the Obvious Benefits of Recreation

Posted on April 29, 2021 at 9:13 AM by Jessica Abrahams

Author: Jessica Abrahams, Administrative Technician

Recreation has always been a part of my life.
  I’ve enjoyed participating in organized recreation throughout my life, from playing sports in school to participating in various sports leagues as an adult.  I also enjoy leisurely recreation and spend much of my free time hiking, biking, kayaking and being active outdoors as much as I can.

Recreation is beneficial for obvious reasons such as improving physical health, reducing stress, having fun, and increasing self-esteem.  I have personally experienced these benefits of recreation; however, there is one benefit that I believe is more important than all of these: recreation brings people together!  When my now 16-year old daughter was in elementary school I met one of my best friends at my daughter’s Park and Rec volleyball games.  My friend’s daughter was also participating in the program and we were both there, watching our daughters play. My friend introduced herself to me, we started talking and ever since then she has been a great friend of mine.  The next time you’re at your child’s game or practice, put your phone away and get to know the person next to you, they might just end up becoming a new friend!

Another benefit of recreation is it makes you feel like a part of the community.  After I finished college, I got a job in Fairmont, Minnesota.  I moved there not knowing anyone.  When I first moved there, I remember thinking I was just going to stay just for a short time and look for an opportunity in a larger town.  I ended up joining a softball and volleyball team where I met new people while being able to participate in activities I enjoy doing.  I only stayed in Fairmont for a couple of years but by the time I left I actually didn’t want to leave!  I definitely felt different about the town from when I had first moved there; I felt a part of the community and it was hard leaving people I had gotten to know.

We should definitely look past the physical benefits of recreation, especially during this time; in a time when it seems like we are being torn apart, recreation is still bringing people together.  The next time you’re watching your child play a sport, try talking to the person standing next to you; you never know when you’re going to meet your next great friend.  Or, try signing up for one of our adult sports leagues and have some fun while meeting new people.  I can attest that recreation can help improve the quality of your life in many ways!

Park and Rec Updates:

  • Summer Registration: Registration begins May 3 for T-Ball, Mini Sluggers, Summer Camps, Track, Lacrosse, Hockey, & TR Friday Camp.  Registration begins May 17 for Summer Swimming Lessons – Session 1 and Tennis.  Visit our website for more information on each program and to register.
  • Adopt-A-Park: Parks and Recreation has a new volunteer opportunity for you! Volunteering for the Adopt-A- Park is a chance to assist the Parks Department to maintain a clean, beautiful area and communicate any issues associated with a specific park, trail or open space. Any questions please contact Jesse Wilker (507-774-7086) or MJ Knudson (507-774-7364).
  • Brooktree Golf Course: The Golf course is now open! Schedule your tee time on Brooktree’s website or call the Club House at 507-444-2467.  The Broken Tee Restaurant is also open, you do not need to be a Brooktree member to enjoy the Broken Tee’s food on the best patio in town! Visit Brooktree’s website for more information on the course and restaurant.
  • River Springs Water Park: Season passes are now available!  Passes can be purchased at the Parks and Recreation office. An ID card will be issued to you for unlimited access during lap swim, water walking, morning and afternoon water aerobics, tiny tot time, and open swim. Individual Season Pass: $85.00 Family Season Pass: Includes three people $180.00 ($20.00 for each additional person)
  • Adult Bean Bag League: Grab a partner and sign up for our Adult Bean Bag League.  Rec league plays Wednesday nights and competitive league plays Thursday nights.  Just $20 per person and no equipment is needed!

Stay Connected:





Apr 15

Therapeutic Rec Friday Camp is Back!

Posted on April 15, 2021 at 8:43 AM by Jessica Abrahams

Author: Dani Bakken, Recreation Supervisor

Therapeutic Recreation
Friday Camp is back! We are very excited to be able to offer Friday Camp again. Friday Camp is an 8-week program designed for kids with developmental disabilities. The camp features traditional day camp activities from 9:30am to 2:30pm and will be located at Brown Park. This nature day camp includes a fun-filled agenda of small group camp activities, swimming and some special events.  Friday Camp welcomes campers with or without support staff, many who return year after year. Please watch the Therapeutic Recreation newsletter and the website for more information.

We will continue to offer our group programing for Therapeutic Recreation. These are offered two times a month. Please remember advanced registration is required as we do have a limited amount of people who can attend. Please call Dani at 507-774-7110 for more information.

Bowling league is going to continue to be on hold. Please watch the newsletter and website for more information on when this program will start.

Tennis Lessons
Matt Hokanson has joined the city as a Tennis Pro contractor. Matt is a Tennis professional who has been coaching tennis since the age of 15 in his hometown of Bemidji, MN. This past fall her served as the Assistant Varsity Tennis Coach for the Bemidji High School Girls, who went on to win the Section 8AA championship. Growing up, I was a two-sport athlete. I played football from 3rd grade through my 9th grade year, and then played only tennis from 10th-12th grade. As a tennis player, I was a 5-year Varsity Tennis player at Bemidji High School in Bemidji, Minnesota. While on the Varsity tennis team, I played #1 Singles from my Sophomore year through my Senior year. I also played numerous 16U & 18U tournaments in the USTA

Northern Junior system. I bounced between a 1-2 star recruit in high school and finished ranked as the #744 ranked player in the United States and #20 in Minnesota for the 2015 class. Matt went on to play Division 1 college tennis in the Big Sky Conference at the University of North Dakota. In Matts free time he enjoys golfing, playing in tennis tournaments, and fishing.  He is excited to be offering Junior Tennis lessons. Please watch the website for more information on the Summer Lessons!


Adopt-A-Park
Adopt-a-Park (AAP) is new in 2021.  Volunteering for AAP is a chance to assist the Parks Department to maintain a clean, beautiful area and communicate any issues associated with a specific park, trail or open space.  Anyone can participate – church groups, organizations, businesses, school clubs, families or individuals.  Volunteers are asked for a once monthly commitment April through October.  Volunteers are responsible for cleaning their site of trash, debris and downed tree limbs.  The also help spread the word of Pack-in, Pack-out and leave no trace!  Encourage others to take with them whatever they brought into the park and dispose of properly.  Volunteers may also undertake beautification efforts in the adopted area upon approval by the Park Director.

The City provides trash bags, buckets and pickers to volunteers.  We also coordinate pickup of trash, debris and limbs.  If a project is being done, the parks department will also provide materials required.  Volunteers will be recognized on signs at the entrance of the adopted park as well as on the city website and social media.

If you’re unable to make a monthly commitment, the Park Clean-Up Kits are better suited for you.  Go to the Park & Rec website to register for a kit.  Kits include buckets, bags & pickers.  You pick up your kit from the Park Shop on Wednesday and return by the following Tuesday.  You can go to any park or any trail during that time.  Leave the filled garbage bags near a trash receptacle in that area for our crew to pick up!


Earth Day Activities
Earth Day is April 22 and we're celebrating all week!  Participate in any activity and be entered into a drawing for a Park & Rec gift card!  To enter, email a photo showing your participation to: parkrec@ci.owatonna.mn.us or post your photo on our Facebook page.  Participate in any of the activities below anytime throughout the week!

  • Self-Guided Park Clean Up- Help clean up the parks!  We'll provide gloves, garbage bags and instructions at the park pavilions.
    • Monday - Morehouse Park
    • Tuesday - Jaycee Park
    • Wednesday - Dartts Park
    • Thursday - Fairgrounds Park
    • Friday - Brown Park
  • Trail Trivia - Walk the Kaplan's Woods Parkway from Morehouse Park to Lake Kohlmier and see how well you get to know the trail!  Trail Trivia can be found on our website and once you've found the answers, submit your answers on our website or email them to: parkrec@ci.owatonna.mn.us.
  • Earth Day Your Way 5K - Run, walk, bike, roll, skip, hop - get to 5K your way!  Get a 5K in anytime throughout the week and be entered into the Earth Day giveaway drawing!  Once you're finished, email parkrec@ci.owatonna.mn.us, include: name, whether you biked, ran, walked, etc., your 5K time (optional), a picture of yourself participating in the 5K (optional).
  • Earth Day Walk/Bike to Work - Bike or walk to work at least one day during the week and be entered into the Earth Day giveaway drawing!  Once you're finished, email: parkrec@ci.owatonna.mn.us, include: name, whether you biked or walked to work, a picture of yourself biking or walking to work (optional).

Apr 08

Spring has Sprung

Posted on April 8, 2021 at 9:40 AM by Jessica Abrahams

Author: Mary Jo Knudson, Recreation Supervisor

It’s time for spring cleaning!  Everyone’s home needs a good spring cleaning to refresh before the beautiful days of summer ahead of us.  The parks are no different!  When the snow melts we find all sorts of things that were covered up all winter.  Our park crew works continuously to keep our parks in excellent shape, free of garbage and debris.  But let’s face it, with over 800 acres of parkland and 17 miles of trail, the task is a big one!


The Parks Department is giving residents the opportunity to take pride and ownership in Owatonna’s beautiful parks by offering Adopt-a-Park and Park Clean-Up Kits.


Adopt-a-Park (AAP) is new in 2021.  Volunteering for AAP is a chance to assist the Parks Department to maintain a clean, beautiful area and communicate any issues associated with a specific park, trail or open space.  Anyone can participate – church groups, organizations, businesses, school clubs, families or individuals.  Volunteers are asked for a once monthly commitment April through October.  Volunteers are responsible for cleaning their site of trash, debris and downed tree limbs.  The also help spread the word of Pack-in, Pack-out and leave no trace!  Encourage others to take with them whatever they brought into the park and dispose of properly.  Volunteers may also undertake beautification efforts in the adopted area upon approval by the Park Director.


The City provides trash bags, buckets and pickers to volunteers.  We also coordinate pickup of trash, debris and limbs.  If a project is being done, the parks department will also provide materials required.  Volunteers will be recognized on signs at the entrance of the adopted park as well as on the city website and social media.


The City has 38 locations to choose from in all sections of town.  A waiver is required of all volunteers.  Thank you to those who have already volunteered!  Greg Posch, Margaret Michaletz, Lavonne Trotter, Judy Srsen and the Wavrin family have already adopted a park…we appreciate your commitment!


If you’re unable to make a monthly commitment, the Park Clean-Up Kits are better suited for you.  Go to the Park & Rec website to register for a kit.  Kits include buckets, bags & pickers.  You pick up your kit from the Park Shop on Wednesday and return by the following Tuesday.  You can go to any park or any trail during that time.  Leave the filled garbage bags near a trash receptacle in that area for our crew to pick up!


Just like your home & yard, there’s always cleaning that can be done, and we sure appreciate our volunteers who keep our parks and trails in excellent condition.  And besides, it’s a great way to get some exercise and spend more time in nature!


Contact Mary Jo Knudson 507-774-7364, maryjo.knudson@ci.owatonna.mn.us or Jesse Wilker 507-774-7086, jesse.wilker@ci.owatonna.mn.us for more information or to adopt your park!


A sure sign of spring is green grass, greens, tee boxes and golf balls flying!  Brooktree Golf Course is now open for the season!  Mother Nature was kind to us this year and the course opened on March 25th.  The course made it through the winter in beautiful condition.


Brooktree offers memberships for Families, Seniors, Juniors and everyone in between!  Annual cart rentals are also available.  Memberships are available at the clubhouse or at the Parks & Recreation office.  Finish off your round with an excellent meal from The Broken Tee…patio opening as soon as weather permits!


The clubhouse opens at 9 a.m. daily (for now), so grab your clubs and head to the links!