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Outside view of the Wilds over the water


About The Wilds

The Wilds at Red Oak Nature Center is located in North Aurora, IL off of River Road, minutes from I-88.

The Wilds built in 2023 is a modern event space located in the woodland area of the Red Oak Nature Center property. Nestled on the east bank of the Fox River among seven natural habitats within eyeshot, the 3,100 square foot venue stands just north of the nature center, along the scenic Fox River Trail. The Wilds represents a nature-lover’s planetarium, its overhead windows and sections of “transparent walls” supporting the structure’s theme of “Letting the Outdoors In.” The simple, sleek décor provides panoramic views of the surrounding 40 acres of woods, the Fox River and its vibrant ecosystem. A large patio and double-sided fireplace allows guests to immerse themselves in the natural surroundings – just as it was intended.

Meet the Team

Abby Oldenburg Headshot

Abby Oldenburg

Rentals and Events Manager

In 2021, Abby joined the Fox Valley Park District as the Rental and Events Supervisor at Blackberry Farm. Soon after, she transitioned into the Rentals and Events Manager. Abby oversaw the growth of weddings at The Barn at Blackberry Farm and The Wilds at Red Oak as well as rentals/birthday parties, and special events at Blackberry Farm. Abby’s passion comes from planning and coordinating her own wedding. She fell in love with the industry and the magic of the wedding day. “Watching our team grow has been an amazing journey. The team has a passion to make the most important day as stress free as possible for our couples.” As the manager, Abby prides herself on customer service. “Ensuring the personalized client experience is my utmost priority. I’m always willing to help guide and support my team and our couples”. In Abby’s spare time, she enjoys traveling to National Parks and spending time with her husband, and their two dogs.

Favorite Wedding Song:
 Lifetime – Justin Bieber
Favorite Wedding Moment: Flower Men walking down the aisle

Tara Molnar Headshot

Tara Molnar

Wedding Services Supervisor

Tara joined the Fox Valley Park District as the Wedding & Rental Coordinator in the Fall of 2021. Just after graduating from NIU with a business degree, Tara partnered up with a friend and created a part-time wedding and event planning business. “I was working full time in an office setting but after 5pm I loved planning weddings and parties. I have a large family and we always had elaborate get togethers, celebrations and weddings.” Tara and her husband moved to Aurora and after working out of her house to be home with their two sons, she came to the Fox Valley Park District as the Wedding & Event Coordinator. As the Wedding Services Supervisor, Tara supervises the rental & wedding team at The Barn and The Wilds and services weddings. Tara loves building a relationship with couples during the planning process. “Life can throw you a lot of curve balls, celebrating the love you have for your partner is sacred, and I am so honored I get to share in that.” During the off season, Tara enjoys spending time outdoors with her family & friends, hosting parties and relaxing by a cozy fireplace.

Favorite Wedding Song:
You’re My Best Friend – Queen
Favorite Wedding Moment: First Look

Katie Volkening Headshot

Katie Volkening

Wedding and Rental Coordinator

“My story begins with a bouquet of flowers.” Katie previously owned her own floral arrangement boutique. She designed wedding centerpieces, bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages. Katie enjoys helping couples learn their style and create a vision. She loved working in the wedding industry but wanted to be part of a collaborative team where she could bring her natural artistic abilities and assist couples throughout the wedding planning process. In March of 2023, Katie joined the Fox Valley Park District as the Wedding and Rentals Coordinator servicing weddings and rentals at Blackberry Farm and The Wilds at Red Oak. “The final meeting is one of my favorite parts of this process. The couple finally sees the results and all their hard work. I love the reveal of the venue to show off the couple’s unique style.” Outside of work Katie enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors and going to baseball games.

Favorite Wedding Song:
Steal My Girl – One Direction
Favorite Wedding Moment: Grand Entrances

Iesha Gordon Headshot

Iesha Gordon

Wedding and Rental Coordinator

lesha is a seasoned wedding planner with a passion for creating unforgettable moments. Known for her meticulous attention to detail, creative vision and just “Getting the job done”, lesha orchestrates every aspect of her clients’ special day with precision and grace. lesha’s dedication to event planning reflects her commitment to making meaningful connections and fostering joyous celebrations that will leave a lasting and memorable impression. Her motto is… “I’m just a girl who Loves Love! Whether you’re planning your wedding or just a special event, everyone should get a chance to feel special even if it’s just for one day.”

lesha is excited to be a part of the Fox Valley wedding team as a Wedding and Rental Coordinator where she will focus on continuing the growth of weddings and rentals at The Wilds. During down time, Iesha loves to travel and spend time with her family and toy poodle named Paris.

Favorite Wedding Song:
You & I (nobody in the world) – John Legend
Favorite Wedding Moment: The Bride arrival


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