About the Manitou Fund
The Lee & Rose Warner Nature Center is generously funded by the Manitou Fund with additional support from family foundations, Friends of Warner, private donations and user fees.
The Manitou Fund is possible thanks to the generosity of Lee and Rose Warner and Don McNeely who shared a vision for excellence in outdoor education and for educating people of all ages about the wonders of nature.
The Manitou Fund, formerly the Lee & Rose Warner Foundation, received the Excellence in Interpretive Support award in 2005 from the National Association for Interpretation in recognition of their years of dedication to the center.
What is the Manitou Fund?
Don McNeely, a co-owner of the Minnesota Vikings and instrumental in bringing the Washington Senators to Minnesota as the Minnesota Twins, joined his father’s business, The St. Paul Terminal Warehouse Company, and turned it into a national company called The Space Center.
In 1959, Mr. McNeely memorialized his beloved aunt and uncle by forming the charitable corporation, the Lee and Rose Warner Foundation. Among the notable contributions of Don McNeely are the Lee and Rose Warner Coliseum at the Minnesota State Fair; the Warner Palestra sports center at St. John's University in Collegeville, MN.; the Rose Warner Writing Center, and the Rose Warner Science Lab at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN.; and a $7 million donation to the Como Park Conservatory, whose botanical flower garden was renamed in honor of McNeely’s late wife, Marjorie, in 2002.
In 1970, the Lee and Rose Warner Foundation purchased the land and buildings of the then Wilder Nature Center, changed the name to the Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center and agreed to take over the funding of the center. In 2009, the Lee and Rose Warner Foundation merged into the Manitou Fund, another of Mr. McNeely’s charitable corporations which he founded in 1966.
Over the past 49 years, the Lee and Rose Warner Foundation and Manitou Fund have funded the Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center. This generous funding has allowed the award-winning center to introduce thousands of children to the wonders of nature. The goal of the Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center is “To build lasting relationships between people and the natural world”. This has been made possible by the generosity of Don McNeely and his Manitou Fund.
Today, the Manitou Fund has a Board of Trustees made up of three of Don McNeely’s children: Greg McNeely, Kevin McNeely, Nora McNeely Hurley, and board president Oliver Din.