2022 Conference Sessions

Friday, May 20, 2022

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Full Day Field Trips (10 am - 5 pm)

Archeology while biking the Cannon River Trail
Presenters: Ron Schirmer and Angie Gupta
Activity level: High

Join Dr. Ron Schirmer, Professor at Minnesota State University Mankato, for a bike tour along the Cannon River Bike trail. This active (but not fast) bike will gather at the Cannon River trail for a full-day biking adventure. There will be many stops to see and learn about archeobotany as we talk about plant remains found at archaeological sites. Particular emphasis will be placed on the study of plant-based foods from gathering to production, and how that changed societies in terms of their village layout, burial practices, and intergroup interactions. Lunch will be provided on the tour, but bikes and transportation to the trailhead will not be provided by the conference.


Spring Lake Park Reserve and Lost Valley Prairie SNA tour
Presenters: Steve Poole and Sara Brokaw
Activity level: High

On this “two-fer” field trip you’ll visit Spring Lake Park Reserve and Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area to learn about habitat restoration and the role volunteers can play. You’ll get a sneak peek of a new bison habitat at SLPR, and hear directly from the site stewards at Lost Valley about their efforts to restore the site back to the tallgrass prairie it once was. Bring your smartphone or camera to add observations to iNaturalist! There are no indoor facilities or rest rooms available at Lost Valley Prairie; please plan accordingly. There are no established trails and terrain may be uneven; you will need to wear sturdy footwear and long pants.

Half Day Field Trips (1 - 5 pm)

Minnesota Dragonfly Society
Presenters: Tony DeRose and John Arthur
Activity level: Moderate

Come join the fun! Learn techniques in catching, handling, and identifying dragonflies. Learn survey and recording methods, lifecycle and habitat preference, and use provided nets to catch and observe dragonflies and damselflies! With good weather, expect to see about 10 species with our MDS field experts. Find out why dragonflies and damselflies are in the insect order Odonata (“the toothed ones”) and what dragonflies can tell us about the health of the environment.


Tribal Agriculture and Natural Resource tour - Prairie Island Indian Community
Presenter: Gabriel Miller
Activity level: Relaxed

As this conference is hosted at Treasure Island Resort and Casino, it is a great opportunity to showcase Prairie Island Indian Community's efforts toward natural resource management, and agricultural sovereignty initiatives.


Power plants, dams, and ditches: A look at invasive species intersections with infrastructure
Presenter: Julia Bohnen
Activity level: Moderate

We'll start our day at Lock and Dam #3 where you'll learn about how these structures found along the Mississippi River work. Army Corps of Engineers staff and engineers will discuss what kinds of operational changes have been put in place to use these structures as a prevention method for the spread of invasive carp. Next, we'll hear from Xcel Energy how invasive mussels and clams can impact critical infrastructure such as power plants, and how these facilities manage the challenges presented by these aquatic invasive species. Finally, we'll visit some sites where invasive Phragmites has been found and learn more about its impacts, why Minnesota is well suited for a coordinated response effort, and how Phragmites impacts both critical habitat and infrastructure.


MN Master Naturalist Instructor field session
Presenter: Andrea Lorek Strauss
Activity level: Moderate

This session is dedicated to those who have been through Master Naturalist Instructor Training. In this session, you will sharpen your teaching skills and get updated on new resources and information for delivering Master Naturalist Biome Courses. Together we will explore the grounds of the Treasure Island Resort and have a Teaching Skills Exchange where you will share your successes and find out what has worked well for others. Come prepared to demonstrate a 5-10 minute activity or teaching method. We'll also take some time to reflect on strategies for building an effective, welcoming learning environment, including an overview of our new "Diverse Naturalists" resources. We have important updates to the Instructor Training Manual (Hint: it's not a Manual!) and will discuss the new Site Agreements procedure. Get rejuvenated with your fellow Master Naturalist Instructors and take home strategies to apply in your next Master Naturalist course!

Saturday, May 21

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Morning Field Trips (9 am to 12pm)

Ripe Radish Farm
Presenter: Suzanne Schmidt
Activity level: Moderate

Visit Ripe Radish Farm, an organic U-pick farm in Hastings, MN that focuses on sustainability. Hear how owner Suzanne Schmidt explores new techniques and how she has turned the farm into a fun experience for the whole family by incorporating a wildflower trail and children’s story path.


Tour DNR's Native Mussel Propagation Lab!
Presenter: Madeline Pletta, Mike Davis, and other DNR biologists and staff
Activity level: Moderate

Tucked away in a Lake City pole building, you'll find DNR's native mussel propagation lab. Here, DNR biologists are busy rearing various species of native mussels as they work to help restore their populations in Minnesota's waterways. Come for a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to raise these unassuming creatures with complicated lifecycles, and what efforts MN DNR is making in their restoration efforts.


Bringing back the bluffs at Spring Creek Prairie Scientific and Natural Area
Presenter: Kelly Randall
Activity level: High

Come along to explore a hidden gem in Red Wing. Beyond the Walmart and housing developments, you’ll find Spring Creek Prairie Scientific and Natural Area. Big, broad 150-foot bluffs here support native bedrock bluff prairie and oak-shagbark hickory woodland. Learn about the management work being done here to enhance and restore these native habitats as we hike. The site has a variety of springtime wildflowers to identify, and raptors often soar overhead, so bring field guides and binoculars as well as your sense of adventure.


Introduction to forest bathing
Presenter: Kristen Mastel and Leah Masonick
Activity level: Relaxed

A guided practice of forest bathing will invite you to slow down, cultivate a sense of presence, and deepen your connection with nature. It is different than other nature experiences such as hiking or birding; in forest bathing, we will be slowing down with intentionality and engaging all of our senses through some activities, stimulating creativity and inspiring wonder and awe. Health benefits include lowered heart rate, stress relief, boosted immunity, better sleep, and a greater sense of purpose. Come feel refreshed and renewed and take home some tools to further your own nature practice.

Morning Sessions (various between 9 - 11:30 am)

Common names and invasive species: Adapting culturally-sensitive nomenclature
9:00 - 10:00 am
Presenters: Megan Weber and Angie Gupta
Activity level: Low

In 2014, the Minnesota legislature passed a bill requiring state agencies to use the term "invasive carp" rather than the commonly used "Asian carp" after concerns were raised by the Asian-American community. However, many other invasive species, both terrestrial and aquatic, bear similar place-based names. Come learn more about the University of Minnesota Extension Invasive Species Community of Practice's efforts to improve the common names and language we use to describe invasive species, why place-based names can be problematic, and how you can be a part of this change.


"Bee-leaf" it or not, you can protect waterways and pollinators!
9:00 - 10:00 am
Presenters: Maggie Karschnia, Sarah Hobbie, Elaine Evans, Jana Larson
Activity level: Low

BEE-LEAF it or not, what you do with the leaves on your property can make a big impact! Find out from a UMN expert how leaves in streets affect the water quality of downstream streams and lakes, and why keeping streets clean is so important. Learn how to join your efforts with others in your community to protect local waterways by adopting a storm drain and pledging to keep it free of leaves, trash, and other debris. And hear from an entomologist on strategies to create a pollinator-friendly yard, including keeping some leaves on your property.


Solving invasive species problems with citizen science
10:30 - 11:30 am
Presenter: Angie Gupta
Activity level: Low

UMN Extension has launched a series of one year invasive species citizen science projects. Many Master Naturalists and Gathering Partners participants have helped by volunteering their time and expertise. Attend this session to learn about these projects, their impacts and how volunteers are directly impacting policy and science! I’ll also highlight projects that will launch in 2022. Anyone interested in learning something new or exploring different ways to get their volunteer hours should consider participating in these projects.


"Thistle" be easy! Sorting native thistles from their noxious counterparts
10:30 - 11:30 am
Presenter: Gary Wyatt
Activity level: Low

If you grew up thinking all thistles were bad, you’re not alone. But not all thistles deserve a bad rap--there are only two thistles on the MN Noxious Weed list. Learn about the thistles in Minnesota, including the non-native that should be managed and the beneficial native thistles that should be planted and protected. Life cycles, identification characteristics and management practices will be discussed.

Afternoon Field Trips (1 - 4 pm)

Sogn Valley
Presenter: Dana and Karin Jokela
Activity level: Moderate

Sogn Valley Farm is a diversified, organic farm near Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Owners Dana and Karin Jokela grow organic vegetables for wholesale customers as well as veggie-herb garden starts and native prairie plants for use in restoration projects and home gardens. They utilize techniques such as native grass and tree seedling buffer strips, cover crops, flowering hedgerows, and pollinator habitat strips to prevent pesticide drift, improve soil quality, and ultimately increase yields. Bring your smartphone or camera to document insects on the farm and boost your observations for the iNaturalist challenge!


Tour DNR's Native Mussel Propagation Lab!
Presenter: Madeline Pletta, Mike Davis, and other DNR biologists and staff
Activity level: Moderate

Tucked away in a Lake City pole building, you'll find DNR's native mussel propagation lab. Here, DNR biologists are busy rearing various species of native mussels as they work to help restore their populations in Minnesota's waterways. Come for a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to raise these unassuming creatures with complicated lifecycles, and what efforts MN DNR is making in their restoration efforts.


Bringing back the bluffs at Spring Creek Prairie Scientific and Natural Area
Presenter: Kelly Randall
Activity level: High

Come along to explore a hidden gem in Red Wing. Beyond the Walmart and housing developments, you’ll find Spring Creek Prairie Scientific and Natural Area. Big, broad 150-foot bluffs here support native bedrock bluff prairie and oak-shagbark hickory woodland. Learn about the management work being done here to enhance and restore these native habitats as we hike. The site has a variety of springtime wildflowers to identify, and raptors often soar overhead, so bring field guides and binoculars as well as your sense of adventure.


Introduction to forest bathing
Presenter: Kristen Mastel and Leah Masonick
Activity level: Relaxed

A guided practice of forest bathing will invite you to slow down, cultivate a sense of presence, and deepen your connection with nature. It is different than other nature experiences such as hiking or birding; in forest bathing, we will be slowing down with intentionality and engaging all of our senses through some activities, stimulating creativity and inspiring wonder and awe. Health benefits include lowered heart rate, stress relief, boosted immunity, better sleep, and a greater sense of purpose. Come feel refreshed and renewed and take home some tools to further your own nature practice.

Afternoon Sessions (various between 1 - 4 pm)

Minnesota Bumble Bee Atlas training
1 - 4 pm
Presenter: Elaine Evans and Jessica Helgen
Activity level: Relaxed

Did you know there are 24 different species of bumble bees in Minnesota? Bumble bees are one of the more commonly monitored bees, thanks to their large size, abundance and relative ease of identification, but volunteers are needed to continue surveying across the state. In this workshop, you'll learn everything you need to know to volunteer with the Minnesota Bumble Bee Atlas, including bumble bee natural history, beginning ID and research protocols.


Designing edible landscapes for the backyard and community
1 - 2 pm
Presenter: Gary Wyatt
Activity level: Low

Much like the victory gardens of the previous century, families are once again interested in growing their own food in the garden. There is also a growing interest in planting community gardens and food forests in food deserts and underserved neighborhoods. This session will encourage open dialogue in discussing example planting designs and how you can bring edible perennials to your backyard or community landscapes.


Cell phone photo basics for iNaturalist
2:30 - 4 pm
Presenter: Janet Nelson
Activity level: Relaxed

Are you an iNatter? Whether you use a camera or a phone to make the images you post, the content and quality of those images often determines whether your posting gets IDed to "Research Grade" or languishes in the hinterland of "Needs ID". Join us to learn how to unlock some of the added features of your phone's camera app that will help you post high quality images to iNaturalist.

Sunday, May 22

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Morning Sessions (9 - 10 am)

Green end of life options: Leaving a lasting legacy
Presenter: Anne Morehouse
Activity level: Low

Upon death, our decision on how to dispose of our bodily remains will have an ecological impact. What are the options for natural body disposal, their respective impact on the environment, and what can we expect to see in the future?


Monitoring insect pollinators
Presenter: Britt Forsberg
Activity level: Low

Minnesota is fortunate to have a lot of support for pollinators, from individuals all the way to the state level, but monitoring is important to better understand the impact of pollinator-friendly actions and policy. In this session we'll discuss different methods for monitoring insect pollinators and how you can be involved.


Wetlands restoration and credit banking
Presenter: Patrick Mader
Activity level: Low

Six siblings of the Mader farm in western Hennepin County took the leap into restoring 41 acres as wetlands. It flourished and became the first certified wetland credit bank in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. It hasn't been cheap, quick or easy, but it's been oh-so rewarding! Learn about the trials and tribulations as they struggled to learn the process and now reap the benefits.


Canid gaits: A step in time
Presenters: Barbara Litsenberger and Bob Miller
Activity level: Low

Most wild animals are elusive which limits the opportunity to directly observe them. To understand what is happening in their world, it is useful to be able to read the signs they leave behind. One of those signs is the gait (walk, trot, gallop) used as the animal travels. This interactive session provides an opportunity to learn the basics of reading wolf, fox, and coyote gait patterns. Terminology, gait patterns and their significance will be explained. The participants will learn to recognize common gaits and how those gaits are created by the animal.


Simple and creative ways Master Naturalists can address climate concerns
Presenter: Mary Vukelcih
Activity level: Low

Are you concerned about global warming? Do you worry about the climate crisis and what kind of world we may be leaving for future generations? Are you not sure how to translate your concern and worry into practical and realistic tasks and activities that you can do and share with others? Let me share some everyday ideas for the everyday person. Bring your knowledge and ideas too! Together we can make sure that future generations can enjoy nature like we do.


Park Rx: Connecting people to nature for health and wellness
Presenter: Sara Holger
Activity level: Low

Did you know health care providers can prescribe time outdoors to their patients? In southeast Minnesota, a collaborative group of parks professionals and health care providers have come together to promote time outdoors. Learn more about how nature impacts health and wellbeing and discover lessons learned from the Southeast Minnesota Park Rx effort.

Morning Sessions (10:30 am - 12 pm)

Basic photo skills for DSLR cameras and their owners
Presenter: Janet Nelson
Activity level: Relaxed

Step outside of your comfort zone (aka auto mode) and teach your DSLR camera some new tricks! We will get acquainted with many of the buttons, dials and features that are available when using the program mode. You will learn some techniques for getting sharper images, brighter images, and composing your scene to add a "wow" factor to your photo. Once we look at these new ideas, we'll get outdoors to try them out! Grab your camera and lenses and join us for a dose of inspiration and fun! Please note: this class teaches skills for cameras that don't make phone calls. Check out "Cell phone photo basics" if you prefer the convenience and ease of your mobile phone camera.


Get active about climate change
Presenter: Ginger Kopp
Activity level: Relaxed

Project Learning Tree and other environmental learning resources provide excellent activities for teaching students how to think about environmental science. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of activities specifically about the impacts of climate change on trees and forests. I developed an activity for teaching students and adults about how climate change may affect Minnesota's trees and forests. I have presented the activity to 5th graders and would like to share it with others, and get feedback on the merits of my activity.


Canid gaits: A step in time
Presenters: Barbara Litsenberger and Bob Miller
Activity level: Low

Most wild animals are elusive which limits the opportunity to directly observe them. To understand what is happening in their world, it is useful to be able to read the signs they leave behind. One of those signs is the gait (walk, trot, gallop) used as the animal travels. This interactive session provides an opportunity to learn the basics of reading wolf, fox, and coyote gait patterns. Terminology, gait patterns and their significance will be explained. The participants will learn to recognize common gaits and how those gaits are created by the animal.


Nature for New Minnesotans
Presenter: Lucas Rapisarda
Activity level: Low

Nature for New Minnesotans (NFNM) seeks to address barriers of access to the outdoors by working directly with immigrant communities attending ELL classes at community organizations across the Twin Cities Metro area. By adapting existing Master Naturalist curriculum, we hope to develop lessons that increase environmental literacy of immigrant communities in the Twin Cities in a way that empowers their use of outdoor spaces and encourages conversations about increasing equity in the outdoors for all Minnesotans. Join this session to find out what we learned from our pilot class and how you can participate.


Phenology in the classroom: Podcasts for KAXE Radio
Presenters: Stephan Carlson and John Latimer
Activity level: Relaxed

Today’s youth are exposed to more screen-time verses outdoor-time than any other period of human history. Engaging them to become keen observers in nature builds ownership to the natural world around them. This workshop partners Master Naturalists with teachers and 4-H leaders to support youth on phenology observations throughout the year. Learn how you will help students and teachers identify plants and animals and record their observations using the Nature's Notebook website. We will also demonstrate how students can deepen their understanding by developing story scripts from their observations into 90-second radio podcasts for KAXE Radio’s “Phenology Talkback” show.


Meet the DNR's fluffiest officer
Presenters: Phillip Mohs and Mack
Activity level: Low

It's probably no surprise that the MN DNR has a canine program, but did you know that it has been used for aquatic invasive species detection for over a decade? Lt. Phil Mohs will discuss the current mission of the MN DNR Canine Program, and how they work to slow the spread of aquatic invasive species with the help of their canine officers. He will be accompanied with his canine partner, Mack, a 2-year-old German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix that is trained to detect zebra mussels as well as wildlife, firearms and ammunition. Phil and Mack will give a demonstration on how they work to sniff out zebra mussels across the state.