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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.

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.

A New Model for Engaging Natural Resource Volunteers

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Amy Rager and Andrea Lorek Strauss, Extension Educators in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education, will present their work toward a new model for engaging natural resource volunteers this afternoon at the Joint Council of Extension Professionals Galaxy National Conference in Pennsylvania. With colleague, Chris Boyd of Mississippi State University Extension Service, they will discuss research-grounded strategies to productively engage individuals through recruitment, education, and retention phases of volunteerism. They will also explore the intersection of effective strategies for teaching adults and supporting volunteers.

Read a short presentation abstract on the conference site. This model will serve as one guide to continue improving the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program volunteer experience.

Minnesota Master Naturalist graduate, Ricey Wild, authored a brief reflection on her experience in the 13 Moons Minnesota Master Naturalist Class. Having lived most of her life in urban settings, Wild called the class her "'Urban Indian: Survivor' episode." All plant names were taught in both Ojibwe and English by staff from the Fond Du Lac Reservation. According to Wild, "actually saying the Ojibwe names gave real significance to my experiences." Wild also learned new information about area animals, culture, and geography. She started a capstone, focused on a pond near the reservation museum. in her words, "I haven't had such a good time since I splashed in mud puddles as a kid."

You can read the full article on page 15 in the August 2013 issue of Nahgahchiwanong Dibahjimowinnan, the Fond Du Lac Reservation Newspaper.

Learn more about Minnesota Master Naturalist at

Minnesota Master Naturalist.pngMore than one-thousand Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers recently accomplished restoration, enhancement and interpretation service on 1 million acres of Minnesota's natural lands. Their outstanding volunteer efforts have encompassed work like wildlife monitoring, seed collection, invasive species removal, native planting, and trail improvement. After completing an initial 40-hour training course, Master Naturalist Volunteers must record at least 40-hours of service to restore, enhance or teach about Minnesota's natural landscape each year to maintain active status. Many volunteers record much more than the minimum service, some logging hundreds of hours.

We are so proud of these strong volunteers, dedicated to sustaining Minnesota's Natural Heritage. Please join us in congratulating their milestone effort.

Visit to learn more about the program. The Master Naturalist program is a joint program between the University of Minnesota Extension and MN Department of Natural Resources.

Minnesota Master Naturalist.pngCongratulations to the Minnesota Master Naturalist staff and volunteers. At the 2012 National Conference in Philadelphia, PA last week, the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs named MN Master Naturalist as its Program of the Year.

Visit to learn more about this award-winning program.

Minnesota Master Naturalist.pngCongratulations to Tom Wilcox, Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer. He was named 'Volunteer of the Year' by St Paul Public Library for his weekly work at Collectors' Corner Neighborhood Trading Place. This is a place at the Rice Street library where youth can bring natural objects, or personal art about the object and share what they know to earn points, which can then be used to trade for other natural items.

Click to read a St Paul Public Library story about Tom Wilcox and his award-winning work at the Collectors' Corner.

Visit to learn more about becoming a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

Minnesota Master Naturalist.pngThe 2012 Minnesota Master Naturalist Conference was a huge success. This year's conference was held in Mankato at the Verizon Wireless center and attended by 115 volunteers and instructors. Participants attended sessions on topics ranging from "leave No Trace", to wild edibles, and odonata research. Field trips were to a local prairie and tree restoration, the city of New Ulm, and Minneopa State Park. Illuminating the conference theme - "Explore", the keynote this year was Greg Petry, kayaker who paddled around Lake Superior. In the words of one participant, "Thanks for your time, energy and effort in putting on the conference this weekend. I give it two thumbs up! The program was strong, presenters were great and the food and arrangements were high quality."

The Annual Conference is a weekend-long advanced training opportunity offered each year to Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers and Instructors. To learn more about the program, visit

This event is an annual advanced learning and celebration opportunity for active Master Naturalist Volunteers and Instructors. The 2012 Minnesota Master Naturalist Annual Conference will take place on May 18-20 at the Verizon Wireless Center, Mankato, MN. Session topics include dragons & damsels, edible plants, pollinators, photography, insects, reptiles & amphibians, prairie restoration and others. There will be a choice of three field trips to either tour New Ulm, Minneopa State Park, or native grasses and trees. Pre-Conference workshop sessions are optional and include Digital Photography Bridge to Nature and The Interpretive Equation. Meet other Master Naturalists, learn from outstanding presenters, eat fabulous food, and get revitalized for future volunteering!

VIsit for more information about the Minnesota Master Naturalist program.

Minnesota Master Naturalist.pngKeep your fingers crossed. The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is a finalist for the 2012 Environmental Initiative Award in the Environmental Education category. Click to learn more about this award. The award site also details some impressive program outcomes for 2011.

  • Master Naturalist Volunteers reported 28,529 hours of service in the state of Minnesota in 2011 for a value of $596,256.00 (
  • Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers self reported teaching 392,359 people across Minnesota in 2011.
  • Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers self reported providing stewardship projects in 2011 on 277,567 acres (both public and private) in Minnesota.

Congratulations to team members and over 1000 Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers on their nomination for this respected award. Award recipients will be announced at a special event on Thursday, May 24, 2012.

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