Saturday May 20

10:30-11:30 a.m. Sessions

Snakes, Turtles and Salamanders: Manage Your Land for the Coolest Creepy Crawlies 

Misi Stine, Master Naturalist Volunteer and Instructor 

When considering land management practices, how do you decide what species to manage for? This session will take a deeper dive to learn more about reptile and amphibian species that can be found on your land, and the best practices to support continued abundance of these ecologically important, and cool creatures. 

Misi Stine has worked with reptiles and amphibians and in environmental education for more than 20 years. Misi has served in a variety of roles, including: as an educator and on the board of the Minnesota Herpetological Society, outreach director for the International Wolf Center, volunteer educator for the Wildlife Science Center, facilitating Project Wild and Project Learning Tree, and as a Master Naturalist Volunteer and Instructor.

Low activity level

Both Feet in the Stream: a Collaborative Study Among Volunteer Naturalists Uncovers Hidden Features in a Local Creek 

Molly Fuentes, Jake Wiebe and Gracie Mertes

With the collaborate creekside efforts of Minnesota Master Naturalists, scientists uncovered a unique relationship between freshwater mussels and fish in an important watershed and tributary to the Mississippi River.  In this presentation, we’ll share our findings, recount some lessons learned while wading through a local creek, and discuss the growing trend of partnering with local volunteers to collect and analyze scientific data. We’ll also dive into what makes a healthy creek, share our favorite macroinvertebrates, and talk about some of the ways you can participate in freshwater science in your own neighborhood.

Molly Fuentes

Molly is a Minnesota Master Naturalist and long-time adventurer and advocate of earth’s natural spaces. Her love for natural spaces has spanned from  tidepools in Northern California to Midwest creek-beds, and she’s kept her snorkel close at hand all the way.

Jake Wiebe

Jake supports community-led conservation as a Minnesota Master Naturalist and environmental educator. From whale watching to beekeeping, he’s enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to research in many areas. You’ll find him slowing up a nature walk to check out cute bumblebees and spot squirrel dreys.

Gracie Mertes, University of Minnesota

low-moderate activity level

Great Smartphone Photography

Mark Bergman

Day-to-day, we regularly run into situations that would make great photos, if only we had a camera to capture the moment.... Fortunately, most of us have smartphones with us that have cameras of high enough quality to take pictures for social media, screen backgrounds, or to print smaller photos. This session will cover the features and limitations of cell phone cameras, guidelines for composition and editing options on our phones to enhance the photos we take. An iPhone will be used as an example, knowing that most smartphones today have equal capabilities.

Mark has been an avid photographer for over 50 years and volunteers as a Minnesota Master Naturalist through the University of Minnesota. He concentrates on landscape and macro photography. He teaches photography classes at the Duluth Folk School and teaches through a number of photography clubs throughout the state. He also assists DNR Naturalists in a number of Minnesota State Parks with their photography needs. 

Participants should bring their charged smartphone.  Low-moderate activity level

Interpreting MN Outdoor ESL

Lucas Rapisarda and Britt Forsberg

Nature for New Minnesotans is a Master Naturalist Extension program that works with adult English Language (EL) learners to learn English through Minnesota's natural history. This presentation will focus on the challenges of teaching natural history to English learners, and will share best practices. The presentation will conclude with opportunities to engage with EL educators to improve naturalist interpretation for adults who are learning English.

Lucas Rapisarda has a B.S. in Community and Environmental Sociology and Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Science in Chemistry from Delta State University. Lucas has worked as a high-school science educator, as well as the Director of Operations at the Rosedale Freedom Project, a non-profit youth advocacy organization that focused on educational equity. Lucas is currently a PhD student at the University of Minnesota in Conservation Sciences. He serves as the program coordinator for Nature for New Minnesotans, and is passionate about the intersection between environmental literacy, racial justice, and access to outdoor spaces. 

Britt Forsberg has a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies and a M.Ed. in Family Education from the University of Minnesota where she focused her work on learning communities. She is an educator with UMN Extension where she develops and implements educational programming for the Minnesota Master Naturalist program.

Low activitiy level

We Belong to the Earth: A Conversation about Natural Burial

Alicia Waters,  Anne Archbold. and Zac Willette Land Conservation Natural Burial Project 

How can the environmentally conscious ensure that even after death our bodies help conserve natural resources, reduce carbon emissions, and protect the land? The Land Conservation Natural Burial Project, a group working to establish a conservation burial area in the Twin Cities metro area, will discuss the three kinds of natural burial, water cremation, and other ways of greening death. This conversation isn’t only about death. It is about tending the Earth, living mindfully, and dying consciously.  “There’s no better way to connect people to the land than to bury them in it.” – Joe Sehee, founder of Green Burial Council

Alicia is a Minnesota Master Naturalist, birder, native plant gardener, and forever a student of the natural world. With a professional background in the humanities and grants management, Alicia aims to provide behind-the-scenes support to projects she cares deeply about, including habitat restoration and accessibility to the outdoors. She enjoys getting her hands dirty and honoring all living beings by encouraging the flourishing of holistic, healthy, and balanced ecosystems. She also enjoys reading, traveling, and learning new skills.

Anne is a social worker, funeral celebrant and death educator. She is co-founder of Final Blessings MN and a leader in the Land Conservation Natural Burial Project. She is part of a growing natural burial movement working to transform current after-death care practices in light of climate change and a growing awareness of humans as partners in the earth community. Anne loves to swim, hike, read, travel and nap in her hammock.

Zac is a board-certified chaplain who has accompanied thousands of people through both life and death experiences. A former K-12 teacher, Zac also taught English students in the cloud forests of Bolivia and staffed a research station on a volcanic island off the coast of Antarctica. He has told award-winning stories with The Moth in Chicago, Aspen, and NYC. Zac loves hiking, biking, photography, fonts, and supporting local independent restaurants. 

Low activity level

11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Sessions

Fruits & Nuts for the Backyard Community 

Gary Wyatt

Families are interested in growing their own food in the garden and planting perennials that produce fruits and nuts in their backyard.  There is also a growing interest in planting community food forests and gardens in communities that are under served and are food deserts.  This session will encourage open dialogue in discussing plant designs for these perennial edibles for the backyard or community landscapes.  Examples of planting designs will also be shared.  Perennial edibles to be discussed include, Hazelnuts, Aronia Berry – Black Chokeberry, Juneberry, Elderberry, Honeyberry and Cranberry to mention a few.    

Gary Wyatt is an Agroforestry Extension Educator and Extension Professor with the University of Minnesota Extension in the Extension Regional Office in Mankato, MN.  Gary promotes sustainable Agroforestry practices that are economical and protect our soil, water, wildlife and natural resources.  Current issues include: Silvopasture, living snow fences, invasive species, windbreaks, riparian buffers, forest farming, bio-energy crops (willows & poplars), eco-system services, tree and shrub selection, community & school food forests, edible and decorative woody plants and non-timber forest products.  Gary has more than 39 years of Extension experience in Minnesota.

Low-moderate activity level

Minnesota Plant Watch- Tracking Rare Native Plants

Deanna Leigh, Minnesota DNR and Angela Miner, University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum - MN PlantWatch Program

In a partnership between the MN DNR and the UMN Landscape Arboretum, a new program has been created to amplify the conservation work that separate groups are able to do with Minnesota's native rare plant species. This program would tap into groups like the MN Master Naturalists and the Minnesota Native Plant Society, empowering MN citizens interested in plant conservation to collect vital data needed to protect rare plants and build on data already available at UMLA, MN-DNR and the UMN Bell Herbarium. This data collection effort will be paired with seed collection to expand the UMLA seedbank to establish a statewide long-term rare plant seedbank. 

Low activity level

Spreading  the Word - Pollinator Education Toolkits

Elaine Evans and Elise Bernstein

Pollinator Education Toolkits are versatile, portable, educational toolkit was created by pollinator experts at the University of Minnesota Bee Lab and Monarch Joint Venture. These kits provide science-based pollinator education through games and interactive features. The kits include instructions for education and outreach leaders. The content of the kit can be modified to benefit audiences with varying levels of pollinator knowledge. Kits are available for check out or purchase. Users will come away with a new appreciation for pollinators as well as new ways to help them.

Elaine Evans is a University of Minnesota Extension Educator and Researcher working on pollinator education and research relating to bee conservation. After completing an M.S. and Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Minnesota, Elaine has worked to monitor pollinators, improve the impact of pollinator habitat, raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, provide action steps for pollinator conservation, and connect people and pollinators. Read more in Elaine’s books “Befriending Bumble Bees: A Guide to Raising Local Bumble Bees” and “Managing Alternative Pollinators”. 

Elise Bernstein is a lab technician and environmental educator at the University of Minnesota Bee Squad. Elise oversees the Minnesota Bumble Bee Atlas project, a community-science based project aimed at tracking and conserving Minnesota's bumble bees. She also assists in conducting bumble bee research and leads pollinator-related outreach events across the Twin Cities area.  Elise holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota where she studied environmental science, policy, and management with a focus in environmental education and communication, alongside a minor in public health. Outside of work, Elise is an avid rock climber and outdoor enthusiast.  

Low-moderate activity level

Light Pollution: Why it matters

Caitlin Johnson, Starry Skies North 

Light Pollution, the excessive use of artificial light at night, threatens human and ecological health. Life evolved under starry skies, yet the introduction of artificial light at night disrupts everything from circadian rhythms to reproduction. Fortunately, solutions combatting light pollution balance conservation with human health and safety. Minnesota Master Naturalists can help preserve dark skies through education and citizen science activities like measuring light pollution, the first step towards solving it. This session provides an overview of how light pollution impacts Minnesota’s natural environment, explores solutions, and shares how to participate in citizen science projects.

Caitlin Johnson is a board member of Starry Skies North, a chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association working to preserve dark skies in Minnesota and beyond. She holds a PhD in physics from the University of California, Santa Cruz where she studied high energy astrophysics. A love of the night sky and an interest in environmental justice brought her to the topic of light pollution and its negative impacts. In 2022, she became a Minnesota Master Naturalist which as it aligns perfectly with her interests in understanding, protecting and interpreting the natural world.

Low activity level

Minnesota Conservation Dogs: Meet the DNR's Furriest Officer

Lt. Phillip Mohs and Mack the German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois

The MN DNR has been utilizing canines to locate and detect aquatic invasive species for over a decade.  LT Phil Mohs will discuss the current mission of the MN DNR Canine Program--particularly in how the department slows the  spread of aquatic invasive species with the help of their canine officers.  He will be accompanied with his canine partner--K9 Mack.   K9 Mack is a 3 year old German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix that is trained to detect zebra mussels as well as wildlife, firearms and ammunition.  Phil is the West Metro District Supervisor and the DNR K9 Program Coordinator.  Phil’s passion for working dogs started while he was a military working dog handler in the US Army.  Phil and Mack will give a demonstration on how they work to sniff out zebra mussels across the state.

Mack is a German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix imported from Hungary. He and his handler, Lt. Phil Mohs, are trained to assist conservation officers throughout the state with: Zebra Mussel detection, Wildlife detection, Evidence recovery, Tracking of persons, Criminal apprehension, & Performing Educational Demonstrations. The use of specially trained dogs increases the state’s abilities to detect zebra mussels, wildlife violations, find trespassers and catch poachers.

Low activity level

12:45 - 1:45 p.m.  - Lunch & Self-Guided Arboretum  Exploration Time

2 - 4:00 p.m. Sessions

Bumble Bee Atlas - Part 1 (2 pm) & Part 2 (3 pm)

Elaine Evans and Elise Bernstein

The Midwest Bumble Bee Survey is looking for people willing to walk among flower patches, collecting data, and photographing bumble bees. These data are crucial to informing conservation and recovery plans for threatened and endangered bumble bee species. This workshop will train you to ID common bumble bees, safely handle and photograph bees, and record data. We’ll also answer all your burning questions about bumble bees. After this workshop, you can adopt a grid cell, choose your survey location, and help document bumble bee populations this summer!

Elaine Evans is a University of Minnesota Extension Educator and Researcher working on pollinator education and research relating to bee conservation. She completed her M.S. and Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Minnesota. She has authored several books: “Befriending Bumble Bees: A Guide to Raising Local Bumble Bees” and “Managing Alternative Pollinators”. Her work helps to monitor pollinators, improve the impact of pollinator habitat, raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, and provide action steps for pollinator conservation.

Elise Bernstein is a lab technician and environmental educator at the University of Minnesota Bee Squad. Elise oversees the Minnesota Bumble Bee Atlas project, a community-science based project aimed at tracking and conserving Minnesota's bumble bees. She also assists in conducting bumble bee research and leads pollinator-related outreach events across the Twin Cities area.  Elise holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota where she studied environmental science, policy, and management with a focus in environmental education and communication, alongside a minor in public health. Outside of work, Elise is an avid rock climber and outdoor enthusiast.  

Low activity level

Green Heron Pond Tour

Take an Educational Walking Tour with Arboretum Experts Sarah Rademacher and Danielle Ungurian

Tour the Bog with an Arboretum expert. Green Heron Pond is one of the southernmost glacial potholes - an area where a large chunk of glacial ice remained (probably under the ground surface for many years) before it finally melted. A portion of the pond contains a small bog.  The unusual aspect of this particular bog (a bog is a wetland type that accumulates acidic peat, a deposit of dead plant material) is that it still harbors living (peat) moss.  Sphagnum needs a low pH to grow and the pH of soils on the Arboretum grounds is 7.5-8.0 (sphagnum needs 5.0 or under).  How it has survived for thousands of years is one of life's perplexing questions!

First created over 40 years ago, the trail around Green Heron Pond rapidly became a well-loved favorite for generations of Arboretum visitors.  The pond, its adjacent marsh and bog represent three naturally occurring ecosystems in Minnesota that are part of the state's geologic and landscape heritage. Just a half-mile long, the bog trail passes through the most diverse ecotypes of any Arboretum hike.  Oak woods, maple woods and the mosaic of intermingled wetlands along the boardwalk offer rich rewards for birders, school groups and families.  In fact, it's an “off the beaten track” nature experience that's easily accessible to the gardens and parking.

The boardwalk was closed for renovation in 2009. Now it’s back in service and better than ever with 100 new pilings - some to a depth of 60 feet. New interpretive signs will tell the stories of its green heron namesake and other wild residents, the lady's slipper orchids at the boardwalk entry and the tamarack bog, shrub swamp and cattail marsh that line the way. In the middle of this remnant glacial bog, it was fascinating to discover trees actually growing on a 10-12-ft thick mat of old roots, with open water beneath them.  Visitors can enjoy the bog through the seasons from spring's yellow marsh marigolds to the golden tamaracks in fall. 

Moderate activity level

Dayton Woodland Wildflower Tour

Take an Educational Walking Tour with Arboretum Experts Anne Gunness, Matt Schuth and Rich Gjertson

Tour this springtime woodland gem with an Arboretum expert. Opened in 1960, the Wildflower Woodland Garden is a showcase for the increasingly endangered native plants of the Upper Midwest. Among the many native blooms are the Dwarf Trout Lily, the Virginia Bluebell, the Trillium, the Cardinal Flower and the Minnesota state flower: the Showy Lady Slipper. Visitors of the Arboretum can also find more orchids blooming in the Wildflower Garden than any other public outdoor garden in Minnesota. 

Moderate  activity level

Bennett-Johnson Prairie Tour

Take an Educational Walking Tour with Arboretum Expert Jake Lavigne

Tour the Bennett-Johnson Prairie with an Arboretum expert. Established in 1965, was established to present plants that existed on the tallgrass prairies of central Minnesota before the days of settlement. Indian grass and big and little bluestem are the dominant grasses of the prairie, which is sprinkled with blooms from spring to late fall.

A south-facing slope contains many plants including goldenrod, heliopsis, asters and golden Alexander. A marshy section contains red-osier dogwood, cattails and phragmites, a tall stately grass. Pasque flowers, prairie smoke and downy gentian bloom in a mesic area. 

To accomplish what natural prairie fires did years ago, the prairie is periodically control-burned in the spring to prevent the growth of large trees, shrubs and unwanted weeds. In the prairie, one can sense the majesty of the land's natural beauty.

Moderate-high activity level, walking to priairie location

Bee Identification at the Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center and Farm at the Arb Tour

Britt Forsberg, University of Minnesota Extension Educator
Self-guided tour of the Farm at the Arb and Pollinator Discovery Center Exhibits 

Explore the Farm at the Arb before the pollinator class session.  Home to the historic Red Barn and Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center, Burton and Virginia Myers Center, the Arboretum’s Farm at the Arb connects people with the food they eat through interpretive exhibits highlighting Minnesota-grown crops, fruits and vegetables.   Extension Educator Britt Forsberg will be onsite with examples of bees found in Minnesota.

Moderate activity level, bus transportation to location

Andersen Library Tour (2 p.m. & 3 p.m.) 

A Behind the Scenes Tour

The Andersen Horticultural Library is a unique and inviting destination open to the public. A reading and reference library specializing in horticulture, plant sciences and natural history, its rich collections include a trove of art in the form of vintage seed catalogs, botanical wall charts, 19th-century wildflower paintings and rare books of exquisite bird and flower images from the past 500 years.  Limit 8 per session time.

Low activity level

5:00 p.m - 8:30 p.m.  DInner,  Activities 

9 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.  Exhibitor Fair - located in Snyder Building Lobby

• AIS Detectors

• Audubon Society

• Bluebird Recovery Program of MN

• Bemidji Bogs ‘n Logs, MN Master Naturalist Chapter 

• Dakota County Volunteers

• Hennepin County Environment & Energy

• Land Conservation & Natural Burial Project

• Larry Weber

• MDA Plant Health Division

• Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center EAB project

• Minnesota Mycological Society

• Offal Wildlife Watching

• Starry Skies North

• West Metro Chapter of MN Master Naturalist Volunteers

6:30 p.m  Pop Up Activites

Tricks of the Trail 

Learn to be an Effective Trail

Andrea Lorek Strauss, Extension Educator, MN Master Naturalist program

Pollinator Safari 

 Look for and Identify Bees on

Nearby Plants (moderate activity)

Britt Forsberg, Extension Educator, MN Master Naturalist program

Trees from Seeds 

Learn about Seed Propagation

Plant a Tree to Take Home (low activity)

Gary Wyatt, UMN Extension Educator, Forestry

Mammals of MN

 Learn to ID 30 Most Common

Mammals by Specimen, Skin, Scat and Skull

John Loegering, UMN Crookston

What’s Cookin’? - Learn About Foraging Common

Plants of Minnesota (low activity)

Amy Rager, UMN Extension Educator, Fish Wildlife & Conservation

Wetland and Aquatic Plant ID  

Learn to Distinguish Natives from Invasives (moderate activity)

Megan Weber, Extension Educator, Aquatic Invasive Species