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Extension Co-Sponsors Pollinator Workshop

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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

Loegering Discusses Spring Bird Migration on Grand Forks News

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jloegeri.jpgFish, Wildlife and Conservation Education Specialist, Dr. John Loegering was featured yesterday night in a Grand Forks television 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.

Oberhauser Discusses Monarch Survey in Star Tribune

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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.

Check Out InformalScience.org Online Access to Research

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Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education team members take seriously the application of research to design/deliver effective informal science education programs like Minnesota Master Naturalist and Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science. We are therefore pleased that the online professional network, InformalScience.org has announced a new agreement to provide members with access to the EBSCO Education Research database. This database covers thousands of journals and research articles to guide practitioners in making the most of their program design/delivery.

You have to be a member of the network to access the online research site. There is no charge to join InformalScience.org.

You can also learn more about Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education programs at the University of Minnesota Education website.

Human design for Wildlife: It's Complicated

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In an interesting post on the Nature of Cities forum, Dr. Mark Hostetler of the University of Florida describes how human design decisions influence decisions by wildlife. In short, it is much more complicated than simply preserving nature spaces or establishing wildlife migratory corridors wherever most convenient in our human landscape. Dr. Hostetler points out that effective design must begin with asking "For which wildlife species?" Different species will react differently to a given space - the space topography, relative size and position of things like trees or bushes, the proximity of more human spaces. In Dr. Hostetler's words, "There is a direct connection between the design decisions made at different scales and the distribution of wildlife species within a region!" Moreover, he points out that these decisions are only the beginning. Nearby residents should be involved in the design, but also the long-term stewardship and refinement of human-designed sites for wildlife.

The University of Minnesota Extension offers a variety of research and resources to help Minnesotan's design for wildlife. Dr. Robert Blair, Extension Specialist in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education has research in review about the value of park reserves to migrating landbirds in an urban area. Extension Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education Specialist, Dr. John Loegering operates a monitoring station to better understand how songbirds migrate through edges of prairies. Visit the Fish, Wildlife and Habitats website for information about University of Minnesota research, the natural history of Minnesota plants and animals, attracting wildlife to yards and gardens, or dealing with nuisance wildlife.

How will the Polar Vortex Affect Invasive Wildlife?

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Many of us are ready to welcome a January Thaw, after days of polar vortex deepfreeze earlier this week. But the sustained cold weather has fueled hopes for significant reduction of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer population in the coming year. Eli Sagor, University of Minnesota Extension Educator in Forestry, posted a brief article Will winter cold save us from emerald ash borer? on MyMinnesotaWoods.umn.edu. In his words, "Even if we lose a lot of EAB this winter, we will not lose them all. Many will survive, either because they are fortunate enough to be in a relatively warm spot (temperature can vary fairly widely across the landscape based on wind exposure, aspect, topographic position, and so on) or because they are more cold hardy than most. These survivors will find each other and begin to rebuild the population."

Visit MyMinnesotaWoods.umn.edu to read the full article.

As a bonus, you can also read a CoolGreenScience blog post by Matt Miller, Nature Conservancy Science Writer, about how the fridged temps may affect other wildlife across the country.

For the first time since 1996, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources updated in August the state list of Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern Species. See the MN Department of Natural Resources Website for more information about the update.

John Loegering has been profiled in a recent MN Pioneer Press article. The article describes Loegering's research, and leadership of a University of Minnesota-Crookston MAPS station for banding songbirds. It is the only monitoring site in the Red River basin. About this site, Loegering said, "It's part of the university's commitment to help move science forward, and this is one activity we could do that would be very useful. This northern prairie environment -- or at the edge of the prairie -- is an environment we don't have on a nationwide basis (in the survey), so this is our contribution."

Read the full profile online at www.twincities.com.

The National Academies Press has released the new Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. The publication outlines a set of expectations for students in K-12 that will ultimately inform a new series of standards for K-12 science education, and updates to school curricula and resources.

You can access the new publication online and in pdf at http://goo.gl/qLONs.

University of Minnesota Extension Environmental Science Education programming and staff focus primarily on informal science education. However, we recognize that the boundaries of what encompasses 'informal' vs. 'formal' or 'incidental' education are fuzzy, confusing at times. Can a classroom teacher use 'informal' methods? Is an after-school program more 'informal' or 'formal'? Is the presenter, who lectures youth at a nature-center program, facilitating 'formal' or 'informal' education?

Perhaps each of these situations blends all three types of education. In the current issue of Adult Education Quarterly, author Kaela Jubas describes education as an holistic process. The article Everyday Scholars: Framing Informal Learning in Terms of Academic Disciplines and Skills describes how the learning involved in an everyday activity like shopping can involve each of five themes inherent to education. See http://goo.gl/KPXqz for the abstract.

Jubas' article may be interesting for those of you who, like our ESE team, often find your education programs positioned at the intersections of different types of education.

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