Field trip to Interstate Park
I started the year looking for an opportunity to learn more about nature. Signing up for a college-level class was a possibility, but I couldn’t imagine enduring freshman biology. Then I stumbled across the Minnesota Master Naturalist website. Perfect!
For 11 weeks in the spring I learned about Minnesota’s natural history. The idea behind this program is that graduates will volunteer 40 hours per year toward environmental causes (education, stewardship, science, and/or administration). The official slogan is “Explore. Teach. Conserve.” Right up my alley and just the impetus I needed!
There is an article about my class in Mankato’s weekly for farmers, The Land.
Ten fun activities from the Minnesota Master Naturalist course:
- Searching for delicate spring ephemerals at Interstate Park.
- Searching for scat at Fort Snelling State Park and learning that rabbits eat their scat.
- Watching a classmate get dressed up like a beaver to discuss adaptation.
- Watching a fish dissection and learning that fish have a swim bladder to control buoyancy.
- Tasting sap straight out of the sugar maple, and then having homemade maple syrup on top of ice cream, thanks to a classmate.
- Learning to identify trees by their branches and bark before the leaves bud out.
- Learning about the oak savanna and prescribed burning at William O’Brien State Park.
- Discovering, by digging through the sludge in Snelling Lake, that lots of tiny creatures live in our wetlands.
- Collaborating with classmates to create a tree identification guide for a small park.
- Having that AHA! moment. Why wait until summer to visit our parks? Each season has something unique to offer.
The master naturalist course was a great experience which will evolve with my pledge of volunteer service.