It’s time to tally up my hours of volunteering as a Minnesota Master Naturalist. In 2011, I logged 40.5 hours (including travel time) doing the following activities:
Assisted visitors with snowshoes and techniques for measuring trees at Fort Snelling State Park for the National Park Service.
Chaperoned a 5th grade field trip to William O’Brien State Park to learn about and catch bugs.
Gave tours of my native plants garden for Wild Ones.
Gave feedback to staff of Great River Greening regarding a presentation they developed.
Represented the MN Master Naturalists at the first annual Landscape Revival: Native Plant Expo & Market. Talked to attendees about the Master Naturalist program and about the benefits of native plants.
Represented Great River Greening at a fundraiser at Ten Thousand Villages store.
Collected sap from maple trees at Tamarack Nature Center.
Weeded the native prairie demonstration plot at Crosby Farm Park for St. Paul Parks.
Removed invasive burdock from Hidden Falls Park for the Mississippi River Fund.
Planted native plants in a terraced forest at Como Park for St. Paul Parks.
Searched for Jack-in-the-Pulpit berries/seeds and picked up trash at Coldwater Springs for the National Park Service.
I enjoy getting outside to volunteer for the benefit of the environment. Being a Minnesota Master Naturalist motivates me to do so. Master Naturalists pledge 40 hours of their time each year to protecting nature and often end up enjoying it at the same time!
I’d like to take a moment to look back and see how I’ve enjoyed and protected nature in the past year.
• I took up a new hobby in 2010—birdwatching. I was fortunate enough to tag along with a group of expert birders, logging about 40 hours with them. Not only did I see many birds I had never seen, I also visited many local parks I had never visited. Thanks Monday Morning Birding Bunch!
• I enjoyed the company of my husband and my dog during two relaxing camping trips at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area—near Ely and on the Gunflint Trail. Canoeing, hiking, swimming, birdwatching and stargazing were excellent.
• I attempted to make healthy and sustainable food choices by shopping at a local food co-op and supporting a local farm through a CSA membership.
• I watched my 2nd-year native plants garden grow and observed how the butterflies, bees, caterpillars and birds are attracted to native plants.
• In my own small way of trying to get others interested in nature, I gave Toastmasters speeches about the Minnesota Master Naturalist program and about my EcoStrides blog.
• H and I purchased snowshoes for our Minnesota nieces and nephews for Christmas and then we all went on a short snowshoeing and sledding adventure.
• I logged 47 hours of volunteering as a Minnesota Master Naturalist. My projects included:
Pulling invasive garlic mustard at Crosby Farm Park for Friends of the Mississippi River
Weeding at Como Lake’s shoreline for St. Paul Parks
Removing invasive burdock from Como Park Woods for St. Paul Parks
Collecting seed of native prairie plants at Woodbury Conservation Corridor and Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area for Great River Greening
Supervising teens in stacking buckthorn at Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area for Great River Greening
Spreading mulch under new shrubs under the Xcel Energy High Bridge for Great River Greening
Cutting and piling brush at Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area for the Minnesota DNR
Cleaning seeds previously collected for Great River Greening
Talking to visitors about native plants during a neighborhood garden tour
Addressing envelopes for the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota
in the world
a turquoise mirror
outshines any Caribbean beach
surrounded by majestic mountain peaks
blanketed in spiky emerald conifers
to top it off
a river of snow
coming down the steep slope
feeding the lake
and primary blue
is the sky
Where is the most beautiful place you have ever visited? For me, Moraine Lake in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies is the most drop-dead gorgeous location in the world!
Its turquoise waters, tall conifers and snow-capped mountains will take your breath away and make you want to stay forever!
My husband and I visited this glacially-fed lake in June 2006. From the vantage point of the rock pile we saw both a small avalanche and a small forest fire high in the mountains—at the same time! Not something you see everyday—or is it, if you live in the Canadian Rockies?
Renting a canoe to explore this awesome lake was such a treat! I highly recommend it. We also had a lovely lunch on the outdoor patio of the Moraine Lake Lodge. If you have limited time in the area, skip Lake Louise and spend your entire day at Moraine Lake. I must return here! Maybe next time we’ll splurge and stay at the lodge. It’d be worth it.
08/23/10 — Gunflint Trail, Minnesota — It was a hot and windy day so we opted to hang out around camp instead of going out in the canoe. The Nuthatches were my entertainment for the day. It’s fun to watch them flutter around pine cones, picking out seeds and bringing them to another tree. Their calls sound like nasal beeps.
The Red-breasted Nuthatch was just one of the species involved in entertaining me on vacation. Here is the list of birds I saw on our week-long camping trip at the edge of the Boundary Waters. (One thing I’ve learned about birders is that they like to make lists.)
Boy, birdwatching couldn’t get much better than this—from the comfort of my own home! First the Pileated Woodpecker; now the Northern Flicker. This is a male Flicker, identified by his handsome black mustache. The other day a squirrel was poking his head out of this tree cavity. I wonder who will stop by next?
As I was eating my breakfast this morning I looked out the window and was surprised and delighted to see a Pileated Woodpecker. At 19 inches, this is Minnesota’s largest woodpecker. They are supposedly quite shy around people. This one was a male, as noted by his red mustache. He stayed for 30 minutes excavating a hole in the neighbor’s silver maple tree, probably looking for carpenter ants. In the afternoon he returned for ten minutes. Additional photos on Flickr.
What do Velcro, the turbine, and Michael Phelp’s swimsuit have in common?
They were all inspired by nature.
In her book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, Janine Benyus describes biomimicry as a “new science that studies nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems.”
I find this topic fascinating. I first learned of the concept of biomimicry years ago from an article in Utne Reader, Mimicking Mother Nature. More information can be found at the non-profit Biomimicry Institute, and from the TED talk video (below).
It seems obvious that scientists and engineers should be looking to nature for ideas, but what about the rest of us? Could we apply biomimicry to everyday living? It’s time to go outside and start looking at flora and fauna from a new perspective.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area is a treasure chest full of lakes and rivers, islands and forests. We Minnesotans are fortunate to have a true wilderness getaway in our own backyard. A five-hour drive from the Twin Cities will bring you to a place where there are no motors. A place where you might catch glimpse of a bear, moose or wolf. A place where you depend on yourself and your companions. If you haven’t experienced the Boundary Waters yet, I urge you to go.
Video clip showing the tranquility of canoeing on Lake One near Ely, Minnesota