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November 2013 Archives

EXT_PHOTO_273.jpgThe Minnesota Master Naturalist Explorers program pairs current adult Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers with staff in existing after-school programs across the state of Minnesota to offer fun, outdoor, science-based educational opportunities for 4th and 5th grade students to learn about the ecology and natural history of their schoolyard, neighborhood, nearby natural areas, and the entire state.

Master Naturalist Explorers ultimately aims to increase youth time spent outside and, consequently, their knowledge about their environment and world. It responds to the needs identified in Minnesota's 2009 Outdoor Education Legislative Report to increase outdoor learning opportunities for children and to train educators who are often uncomfortable taking youth outside for lessons. It also addresses outcomes outlined in the Minnesota Greenprint to provide increased environmental education opportunities for youth both at school and during play.

The Minnesota Master Naturalist Explorers project is creating a series of outdoor, sequential, earth and life science-based lessons with targeted learning outcomes that address the new MN K-12 Science Standards. It is delivering training to prepare adult volunteers to deliver these lessons in after-school programs for 4th and 5th graders with the aim of improving their performance on the 5th grade Science MCA exams, and establishing connections with after school programs to host Explorers throughout Minnesota. The weekly lessons focus on the physical changes in the seasons and their effects on plant and animal life i.e. phenology.

This project is made possible with funding from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Visit the Minnesota Master Naturalist Explorers website to learn more about the program.

Saturday September 28 dawned a rainy gloomy day. Nonetheless, 105 Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers showed up in the rain and cold to perform conservation service projects on public lands. Four sites around the state hosted volunteers: Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge-Bloomington, Cold Water Spring-Fort Snelling, Vermillion State Park-Soudan, and Itasca State Park-Park Rapids.


Each location had a different task, and focus for the volunteer service project. Projects included: worm surveys in the north woods of Vermillion State Park, Minnesota's newest state park, woody invasive removal at Minnesota Valley, and native garden upkeep at Cold Water Spring. Volunteers at Itasca State Park worked with a group of U of M undergraduate students from Extension Specialist, John Loegering's class at Crookston to bud cap over 6000 trees in three and a half hours. Cold Water Spring planted 110 trees and 200 shrubs were added to the landscape.

In all, the volunteers provided an impressive total of 1930 hours at a value of $42,730.00 ( All volunteers received a free t-shirt and lunch for participating in the day. Sponsors included, National Park Service, US Fish & Wild Service, Minnesota State Parks, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and University of Minnesota Extension.

Visit to learn more about the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program. Visit to learn more about National Public Lands Day.

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