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National Public Lands Day was first held in 1994 with three federal agencies and 700 volunteers. The event is now hosted by the National Environmental Education Foundation, each year on the last Saturday in September. Nationally in 2014 over 2000 individual sites were registered to participate. Minnesota, Master Naturalist co-sponsored 10 sites across the state. Each site had a different activity to be accomplished.

At Itasca State Park, volunteers bud capped approximately 23 acres of red, white, and jack pine seedlings near the north entrance to the park and around the Mary Gibbs Headwaters Center. Participating in the crew were, 68 people, including 2 DNR staff, 4 Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteers, 49 students at the University of Minnesota Crookston, and 13 members of the UMC faculty, staff, or their affiliates.

Picture: Bud capping crew at Itasca State Park
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In Rochester, Master Naturalist hosted two locations. Volunteers at Indian Heights Park worked on buckthorn removal. Volunteers at Chester Woods County Park hosted a crew who hand collected prairie seed.

Metro sites included Crow Hassan Park, where volunteers hand collected prairie seeds; and Carver Park, where volunteers removed woods invasives, mostly bittersweet and buckthorn. Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge site volunteers removed invasives and worked on site prep for a pollinator planting. Afton State Park had a crew working native seed collection and buckthorn removal. William Berry Woods hosted a buckthorn bust.

Picture: Volunteers learn about bullsnakes from Naturalist John Moriarity
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Master Naturalist volunteers at Lake Vermillion State Park/Soudan Underground Mine State Park worked on a timber stand improvement project. This included GPS locating trees and bud capping seedlings for winter protection.

Northland Arboretum volunteers worked on removing Japanese Knotweed and cleaning up the memorial garden and Scout garden areas.

National Public Lands Day was coordinated and sponsored by the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program that provided lunch and a t-shirt to all participants. The University of Minnesota provided transportation for the students and faculty from Crookston. There were 10 sites across Minnesota that participated in the event and hosted 186 volunteers who recorded 781 hours of volunteer service valued at $18,986.

An October 4 Invasive Blitz training at Duluth's Hartley Nature Center trained a group of northern Minnesota volunteers to prevent the spread of Invasive Species. Watch FWCE Educator, Andrea Strauss, discuss the event on Duluth television news.

Invasive species such as buckthorn, garlic mustard and wild parsnip pose serious threats to Minnesota's natural resources, ecosystems, and economy. Participants in the one day workshop learned the impact of invasive species in Minnesota. They learned to identify and remove/treat selected problem species, and provide follow-up management and monitoring. Participants also practiced planning a community project to mobilize organizations and clubs for invasive plant removal projects as part of an annual statewide "Invasive Blitz" event.

Congratulations to all of the northland participants, ready to tackle a critical Minnesota conservation issue!

Making an Impact on MN Public Lands

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Minnesota Master Naturalists are preparing to make an impact on Minnesota's Public Lands. National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is our nation's largest single day of public service for our public lands. According to the NPLD website, the event began in 1994, involving service from 700 volunteers. Last year, the event involved "more than 175,000 volunteers and park visitors celebrated at 2,237 public land sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico."

Minnesota Master Naturalist will be hosting service events statewide on the 2014 National Public Lands Day - Sept 27. Events will take place statewide at locations large and small - Itasca State park, Quarry Hill Nature Center, the Northland Arboretum, and Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. We look forward to this day of service with an engaged group of statewide volunteers.

Visit the National Public Lands Day website to learn more about the day of service. Visit the Minnesota Master Naturalist website to learn more about the volunteer training and service program.

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.

In the News: Minnesota Master Naturalist Classes

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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 describes 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.

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

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.

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