University of Minnesota Extension
http://www.extension.umn.edu/
612-624-1222
Menu Menu

Become a leader in reducing the invasive species in your community! We are calling all volunteers from the Minnesota Master Naturalist, Master Gardener, Forest Pest First Detector and other programs. As you know, invasive species such as buckthorn, garlic mustard and wild parsnip pose serious threats to Minnesota's natural resources, ecosystems, and economy. We want YOU to join in a statewide effort to tackle the growing problem of invasive species.

Sign up for a one-day workshop (qualifies as Advanced Training or continuing education hours) from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. on Saturday, September 13, 2014 in Spicer, MN. You will learn the impact of invasive species in Minnesota and be trained to identify and remove/treat selected problem species and provide follow-up management and monitoring. We will help you plan a local project that will mobilize organizations and clubs you belong to so you can host local invasive plant removal projects as part of an annual statewide "Invasive Blitz" event. You may even wish to adopt a local natural area (park, woodlot, camp, retreat center, etc.) you can regularly monitor and provide stewardship for into the future.

Visit the Minnesota Master Naturalist website to learn more about the Invasive Blitz workshop in Spicer MN.

Extension Co-Sponsors Pollinator Workshop

| No Comments

Bumble Bee With Pollen.jpgA pollinator workshop entitled, Managing Prairies for Pollinators was held at the West Central Research Outreach & Extension Center on June 3-4, 2014. The University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources co-sponsored the event.

Sixty natural resource professionals attended the workshop to learn about the new legislation passed in Minnesota designed to protect pollinators. Participants were from organizations such as The Minnesota Land Trust, Great River Greening, MN DNR, SWCD, NRCS, The Nature Conservancy, USFWS, and others who manage land or help landowners make management decisions.

Speakers came from across the state to share what they know about pollinators, and to discuss areas where research is still needed. Participants were given the habitat evaluation form developed by the Xerces Society and then had a chance to do an on-site evaluation of the research station in small plots. This tool is available for landowners to use to do their own on-site evaluation helping them to plan for pollinators. One participant said, "I thought the workshop was great, tons of excellent information. It is just humbling to find out how after college, and years of managing grasslands, how little I know. Truth be told, when I went to college I never thought I would be worrying about pollinators."

You can learn more about how to protect Honey Bees and other critical pollinators on the University of Minnesota Extension website.

Post by Amy RB Rager

WIRED columnist, David Lang explored the "weird, wild world of citizen science" in a recent post on the site. In this article, Lang describes examples of citizen science projects that are helping to pinpoint the cause of a starfish disease, and rescue a vintage spacecraft for NASA. He points provocatively toward convergence of "maker" and "hobbyist" movements with scientists, who increasingly need access to larger datasets and human resources/expertise to address critical research questions. This combination, Lang suggests, will lead to a "weird, feral form of science." In his words: "How these trends ultimately play out will be our decision. The potential is for both faster and slower science. It won't work for every field of study. But for any research that also hopes to inform and educate humans to make better decisions, especially about our planet's ecology, it's a substantial improvement."

Just what is citizen science? Watch a brief video on the University of Minnesota Extension YouTube site to find out. American citizens have been contributing for centuries toward important scientific discoveries. Citizen science projects contribute toward our understanding of everything from galaxies to animals to sub-atomic particles.

Want to get involved in citizen science? The University of Minnesota Extension citizen science website is a great place to get started. The Minnesota Master Naturalist program helps to connect people who are interested in natural history with high quality volunteer opportunities like citizen science. The Monarch Larva Monitoring Program involves volunteers from across the United States and Canada in monarch research. Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inqury through Citizen Science uses citizen science as a springboard for engaging youth in the full process of authentic research. We look forward to welcoming you into these programs to dig into this "weird, wild world of citizen science".

In the News: Minnesota Master Naturalist Classes

| No Comments

MMNP Logo.pngThe Minnesota Master Naturalist Program has recently been captured in two statewide news articles. The Brainerd-region Lakeland Public Television sent a reporter along with volunteer participants on a Northwoods, Great Lakes class field trip. He captured a video of a bear and porcupine that the group discovered during their outing. The Anoka-Ramsey Community College/Anoka Technical College Linked e-newsletter included a post that descibes results of college faculty to re-design a Field Biology course to encompass Master Naturalist Volunteer Certification. Fifty students and community members have been certified through the collegiate Master Naturalist classes. They have contributed hundreds of hours of community conservation service, including creation of interpretive signs for an environmental education area, building bluebird houses, creating gray wolf curricula for schools, and conducting biological inventories for a local nature center.

Congratulations to these and the many other Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteers and instructors, who contributed over fifty-five thousand hours of conservation stewardship across MN last year. Visit the program website to learn more about the University of Minnesota Extension Minnesota Master Naturalist Program.

Loegering Discusses Spring Bird Migration on Grand Forks News

| No Comments

jloegeri.jpgFish, Wildlife and Conservation Education Specialist, Dr. John Loegering was featured yesterday night in a Grand Forks televsion news story about spring bird migration in the Red River Valley. According to Loegering, birds migrate to Minnesota each year to find precious habitat resources to raise their young. Song and other bird species should be returning to the state over the next few weeks.

Visit the University of Minnesota Extension Fish, wildlife, and habitats site to learn more about bird natural history and attracting birds.

The 2014 Minnesota Master Naturalist Annual Conference is fast approaching. It will be held at Camp Friendship in Annandale, MN on May 16-18. This annual conference typically involves around 100 Master Naturalist volunteers and instructors, and fulfills their annual requirement for continuing natural history education.

The 2014 confernce will encompass three days of hands-on learning in conference and field sessions. Keynotes include Dr. Lee Frelich and Dr. James Francisco Bonilla. Preconference workshops will focus on tracking MN phenology, exploring pollinators, and teaching initiative-building activitires.

Visit the Annual Conference Site to learn more about and register for this event.

New Videos Explore Youth Research Based on Citizen Science

| No Comments

In three new videos on the University of Minnesota Extension You Tube Channel, young researchers describe their experiences studying birds and Monarch caterpillars last summer. Sparked through their involvement in the NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science project, these youth worked with trained adult leaders and University of Minnesota science faculty to design and carry-out their own investigations.

In the first video, a youth discussed how she investigated the question "How does a constant daily temperature versus fluctuating (one day 90 degrees, one day 63 degrees) temperature affect the growth of a cecropia moth caterpillar?"

In a second video, youth describe how they designed a study to explore the question "Are more birds spending most of their time in the lagoon, sky, ground, or trees and poles?"

In the third video, youth discuss how they investigated the question "Are more birds spending most of their time in the lagoon, sky, ground, or trees and poles?"

The NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science project seeks to expand the reach of Citizen Science for youth. Typically, citizen science--or public involvement science--involves the general public in collecting data that can be analyzed and interpreted by professional scientists. Illustrated in the new video, this project carries citizen science a step further, enabling youth to design, carry out, and even report on their own research questions under the mentorship of science advisors at the University of Minnesota. By giving young researchers the freedom and responsibility to design their own projects, they gain a greater understanding and appreciation for science, and will grow to see themselves as scientists.

CLICK to learn more about Driven to Discover: Enabling Antuentic Inquiry through Citizen Science.

CLICK to watch other Citizen Science videos on the University of Minnesota Extension YouTube Channel.

Barbara JS.jpgCongratulations to Barbara Jacobs-Smith, an adult leader for the NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science project. She has been granted a sabbatical from her teaching position to volunteer at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with their Bird Sleuth curriculum. Her work will support the Cornell Lab staff through creating lessons and activities that help youth learn diversity and science process.

Ms. Jacobs-Smith has been an Extension Adult Leader for three years with Driven to Discover, collecting data and conducting science investigations with her 4th, 5th, and 6th grade Breck Birders group. Asked how her participation in Driven to Discover helped get her to the Lab, Barbara explained, "It is through my association with D2D that I was able to make the connections that allowed me to successfully contact The Cornell Lab of Ornithology." Drs. Robert Blair and Karen Oberhauser, University of Minnesota Extension specialists in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education, introduced Jacobs-Smith to staff at the Cornell Lab, and provided positive recommendations of her work. The Driven to Discover Annual Research Summit also provided Cornell staff the opportunity to see Barbara's leadership in-action. In her words, "Weeks later, my D2D research team, the Breck Birders, were presenting their project at the Ecology Fair at the University of MN. A man I did not know came up to me and asked if I was the adult leader of the Breck Birders. He introduced himself. He was Rick Bonney, Director, Program Development and Evaluation at the Cornell Lab. Bonney is credited with coining the term 'citizen science' in the 1990s and launched the eBird website in 2002. He was very impressed with the Breck Birders' project and with their presentation, which he witnessed. He told me he was aware of the invitation Jennifer Fee had extended to me to work at the Lab. He went on to say that he would very much like me to come to the Lab to work and learn. He thought that there was a lot I could do to support the work they are doing there."

Barbara credits her participation in Driven to Discover and the Minnesota Master Naturalist program as giving her the tools to help students practice authentic science. Master Naturalist provided her with specific information and a deeper understanding of the biomes in which she teaches. Driven to Discover provided her with skills and activities to engage her students in science investigation. Jacobs-Smith said, "The D2D program gave me the tools to allow my students to behave as professional scientists do. I believe it has helped move my instruction from merely telling students about science to helping them become scientists. The information is very important, but it's what children do with that information that makes the difference. It is the difference between knowing and understanding, the difference between seeing themselves as passive recipients of information or as scientists themselves."

We wish Barbara Jacobs-Smith all the best during her 2014-15 opportunity to work at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and look forward to her continued participation in University of Minnesota Extension programming. Visit the program site to learn more about Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science.

Competition for Conservation?

| No Comments

According to a recent post in the Cornell Chronicle, Janis Dickinson, professor of natural resources and director of citizen science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, believes that healthy competition among citizen science volunteers may be a good thing for conservation. She is managing the new YardMap.org, a project that enables participants to add details about a specific site (e.g., their yard) to Google Maps and link to bird monitoring data in eBird.org. Users can also commit to adopting habitat conservation actions, such as adding feeders or keeping cats away from the birds. YardMap aims to help participants learn about, actually enact, and showcase more bird friendly habitat. In the words of Dickenson, "If everybody reduced their lawn size, had a greater diversity of structure and vegetation types, had berry-producing plants, and if this were done over a larger area of land, say an entire town, this could create one large patch of relatively high-quality habitat."

Sign up or learn more at the YardMap.org site. This is a great service opportunity for Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteers or Driven to Discover: Enabling Youth Inquiry through Citizen Science adult leaders. Learn more about these programs at the University of Minnesota Extension Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education website.

Oberhauser Discusses Monarch Survey in Star Tribune

| No Comments

EXT_PHOTO_OBERH001.jpgFish, Wildlife and Conservation Education Specialist, Dr. Karen Oberhauser was featured in an article about recently released results of an annual survey of Monarch overwintering colonies in Mexico. The 2014 results suggest alarming decline in the population of the migratory butterflies - just 1.7 acres of overwintering colonies, down from an average trend of between 20-30 acres. Weather, climate change, and natural pests have all influenced this trend. However, Oberhauser points to habitat loss as a significant driver for this decline.

Efforts to restore and create new Monarch habitat can make a difference. Oberhauser explains in the article that restoring summer breeding habitat in Minnesota and other U.S. regions to a point where winter colonies occupy 7.5-10 acres could sustain the population.

Visit the MonarchWatch website to learn more and get supplies to create your own Monarch Waystation habitat. Visit the University of Minnesota Extension Minnesota Master Naturalist or Citizen Science websites to learn more and get involved in programs focused on natural resources conservation service.

  • © 2014 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy