Posts Tagged ‘Volunteering’

2011 Recap

January 2, 2012

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!

2010 Recap

January 2, 2011

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:

  1. Pulling invasive garlic mustard at Crosby Farm Park for Friends of the Mississippi River
  2. Weeding at Como Lake’s shoreline for St. Paul Parks
  3. Removing invasive burdock from Como Park Woods for St. Paul Parks
  4. Collecting seed of native prairie plants at Woodbury Conservation Corridor and Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area for Great River Greening
  5. Supervising teens in stacking buckthorn at Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area for Great River Greening
  6. Spreading mulch under new shrubs under the Xcel Energy High Bridge for Great River Greening
  7. Cutting and piling brush at Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area for the Minnesota DNR
  8. Cleaning seeds previously collected for Great River Greening
  9. Talking to visitors about native plants during a neighborhood garden tour
  10. Addressing envelopes for the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota
  11. Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count

Here’s to 2011 and more outdoor escapades!

Restoring the Prairie

November 21, 2009
Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

This fall I dodged raking leaves at home, but today I spent four hours raking twigs for the Department of Natural Resources. The reward was spending a beautiful autumn day outdoors. After raking down to the bare soil, we spread native grass and flower seeds.

Lost Valley Prairie is designated a Scientific and Natural Area with the purpose of preserving Minnesota’s diversity of plants, animals, and geological features. In this case it is a prairie on top of limestone.

The SNA Program’s goal is to ensure that no single rare feature is lost from any region of the state. This requires protection and management of each feature in sufficient quantity and distribution across the landscape.

Minnesota currently has over 140 SNAs, and wishes to have 500. Although SNAs are open to the public, they are not really parks, as there are no restrooms, trails, or major recreational opportunities. But you can still visit and enjoy the view!

Double Shift

October 24, 2009
The Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet

The Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet

I volunteered today at two separate events. In the morning I hauled invasive buckthorn out of the woods and picked up litter in Como Park. In the afternoon I spread native grass seeds in Crosby Farm Park, overlooking the Mississippi River. Working outside makes me really tired — in a good way. Coming home to a hot shower and a short nap is one of life’s simple pleasures.

Logging the Hours

September 29, 2009

As a Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteer, I have pledged to spend at least 40 hours per year volunteering for the great outdoors. In 2008 I unfortunately failed miserably at reaching this goal. This year I am again struggling to log in that many hours, but I think I can still do it! I will need to devote most of my Saturday mornings to volunteering.

So far this year I have:

  • chaperoned kids on a snowshoeing/animal tracking excursion
  • pulled invasive species: burdock and garlic mustard
  • planted native grasses and flowers on a steep hillside overlooking the Mississippi River (then my legs hurt for 3 days!)
  • collected acorns for planting this fall
  • planted rain gardens at a school

If you are interested in habitat restoration in Minnesota, here are some organizations that host volunteer events. I hope to see you at some events this fall!

A Request from the Prez

April 22, 2009

Yesterday, President Obama announced a call to service:

… I ask every American to make an enduring commitment to serving your community and your country in whatever way you can … Together, we will measure our progress not just in number of hours served or volunteers mobilized—but in the impact our efforts have on the life of this nation … We need your service, right now, at this moment in history. I’m not going to tell you what your role should be; that’s for you to discover. But I’m asking you to stand up and play your part. I’m asking you to help change history’s course.

Today, on Earth Day, as a Minnesota Master Naturalist, I pledge to volunteer at least 40 hours per year for environmental causes. My charity dollars and my free time are spent enjoying and protecting nature.

What’s your pledge?

Counting Birds with the Pros

December 20, 2008

I spent this morning counting birds for Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count. This annual event occurs throughout the Americas and its purpose is to assess the status of bird populations.

This was a new experience for me, as I haven’t done much bird watching. Four men and I drove around a specified territory and we counted all the birds we saw. We went through cemeteries, trails, wooded areas, busy streets, and residential neighborhoods. We got out and walked at times. I appreciated the opportunity to learn from long-time birders.

What I discovered:

  • I can be much more observant than usual if I try.
  • I can now identify the dark-eyed junco.
  • There are several nearby trails that I didn’t know existed.
  • When birders drive a car they don’t keep their eyes on the road!

It was a very snowy day, so the birding supposedly wasn’t very good, but I was impressed with our numbers. We saw (or heard) 17 different species and a total of 369 birds.

Master Naturalist

December 14, 2008
Field trip to Interstate Park

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:

  1. Searching for delicate spring ephemerals at Interstate Park.
  2. Searching for scat at Fort Snelling State Park and learning that rabbits eat their scat.
  3. Watching a classmate get dressed up like a beaver to discuss adaptation.
  4. Watching a fish dissection and learning that fish have a swim bladder to control buoyancy.
  5. Tasting sap straight out of the sugar maple, and then having homemade maple syrup on top of ice cream, thanks to a classmate.
  6. Learning to identify trees by their branches and bark before the leaves bud out.
  7. Learning about the oak savanna and prescribed burning at William O’Brien State Park.
  8. Discovering, by digging through the sludge in Snelling Lake, that lots of tiny creatures live in our wetlands.
  9. Collaborating with classmates to create a tree identification guide for a small park.
  10. 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.