The mission of Darke County Parks is to acquire and preserve land areas possessing special natural and historical features and to maintain these resources for the benefit of its residents through appropriate educational and recreational programs and activities.
The Darke County Park District was formed in June 1972 under the provisions of the Ohio Revised Code, section 1545, for the benefit of the citizens of Darke County.
The first preserve or park was a thirty-two acre tract of land located on Young Road in Jackson Township. Now known as Coppess Nature Sanctuary, the land was donated from private citizens who wanted to preserve the land and wildlife as a reminder of how it may have appeared in pre settlement time. This donation was the catalyst for the creation of the Park District.
Since 1972 the Park District has grown to include ten park locations encompassing more than 400 acres. In September 1997 Dark County Parks dedicated the Nature Education Center at Shawnee Prairie Preserve, beginning a new era of natural and cultural preservation and education for the citizens of Darke County. Today more than 10,000 visitors annually participate in nature education programs of all kinds. The building and setting also serves as a community center, continuously hosting meetings and special events.