Weekend Nature Activities: Dec 15–22

Enjoy the quietness of winter, the darkness of winter . . . for as of December 22, the winter solstice 2015, there will be increasing light with each new day.


This week . . .

Dec 12–20
43rd Annual Folkways of the Holidays $$$
$8 ages 18-64, $5 ages 2-17 and 65+, Children under 2 free Discover the holiday traditions of 19th century Minnesotans. Watch folk art performances, ride a horse-drawn trolley, and tour homes with culturally distinct decorations and crafts. Perfect for scouts working on cultural and heritage badge requirements. Children 17 years and younger must be accompanied by a registered adult. Dress for the weather. Last admission at 3 PM.

December 5: Sacred Harp, Curtis and Loretta
December 6: Barnett Family Singers
December 12: Larry Greenstein
December 13: St. Paul Czech Dancers
December 19: Live Reindeer Display (noon?4 PM), Village Christmas Pageant, and Santa Claus
December 20: German Immersion School Folk Dancers

The Landing (2187 Highway 101 East, Shakopee, MN 55379)

Dec 15
Elk Management Plan Revisions —Public Meeting
6:30 PM to 8:30 PM Public input meeting on elk management plan revisions. Learn more.
Lancaster Community Center (95 2nd St. W., Lancaster, MN)

Dec 15
Little Babe in the Big Woods
9 AM to 10 AM Each first and third Wednesday of the month, get out of the house and meet other parents and babies for this bi-weekly nature themed get together. This week discover nature play in fall leaves and experiment with fall color fun! Open to babies ages new born to three years old. Info. and pre-register, call 320-354-2055. Dates include:

November 4 & 18
December 2 & 16
January 6 & 20

Sibley State Park (Meet in the Interpretive Center)

Dec 16
Winter Bird Walk
10 AM to 11:30 AM Winter is a great time to learn to identify birds since there are fewer of them that stay during the winter months. Binoculars and field guides are available to those that need them. A great excuse to get a winter walk in your day!
Brown’s Creek State Trail (Meet at Coldwater Stop, Neal Ave parking lot)

Dec 16
Elk Management Plan Revisions
—Public Meeting
6:30 PM to 8:30 PM Public input meeting on elk management plan revisions. Meeting will take place from 6:30-8:30pm on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015 at the Grygla Community Center, 127 S. Main Ave., Grygla, MN. Learn more.
Grygla Community Center, Grygla, MN
Dec 17
Tomte Solstice Magic
4:30–7:30 Experience the magical Scandinavian Tomte tradition. Listen to a story, make a craft and search for the Tomte hiding in the barn with small gifts. Visit the animals and sample hot porridge. Children 17 years and younger must be accompanied by a registered adult. Drop in anytime.
Learn more about where this event is being held
Gale Woods Farm


Weekend . . .


Dec 18
Wild Rice Cook-Off!
1 pm. 20 contestants will bake or cook a dish or dessert with White Earth’s wild rice flour. All contestants will receive 5 lbs of wild rice flour to work with. To compete, email carlene.hisgun@whiteearth-nsn.gov or call 218-983-3285 x5907 by Dec 9th.
White Earth RTC Cafeteria


Dec 18
Folkways by Candlelight $$$
5–8:30 PM $8 ages 18-64, $5 ages 2-17 and 65+, Children under 2 freeTake a candlelit stroll through the 1800s Eagle Creek Village. Greet costumed residents as they share holiday traditions in their homes, watch the Christmas Pageant in the Town Hall at 6:30 PM, and enjoy music by pianist Renae Williams. Enter through the West Entrance. Dress for the weather and an evening stroll. Last admission at 7:30 PM. Children 17 years and younger must be accompanied by a registered adult.
The Landing



Dec 19
Beavers in Winter —Presentation + Snowshoe Hike
10 AM to 12 PM Come learn how beavers survive the long winters. After a short indoor presentation, we’ll visit a nearby beaver lodge. If there is enough snow, we’ll snowshoe. Bring your own snowshoes or use the park’s.
Whitewater State Park

Dec 19
Annual Winter Bird Survey —Volunteer Activity
10 AM to 12 PM This annual count provides a record of the birds that winter in the park. On this year’s birding route you can travel through hardwood and pine forests either on foot or on skis, depending on snow conditions. Open to all birding abilities. Bring your binoculars and field guides. Meet at the Visitor Center.
Lake Bemidji State Park

Dec 19
Reindeer and White-tailed Deer, What’s the difference? —Kids Winter Wonderland Program
10 AM to 11 AM Hey kids! Learn about the similarities and the differences between Reindeer and White-tailed Deer! After the talk, make a Reindeer Ornament to take home! Registration is required so please call the park office at 651-433-0500 to reserve your spot!
William O’Brien State Park

Dec 19
Nature Story: Bears and Hibernation
10:30 AM to 11:30 AM After reading through a children’s storybook, we’ll show and tell some fun and interesting nature items relating to the story. The program may also have a craft, game or other hands-on learning experience.
Jay Cooke State Park (Meet at the River Inn Interpretive Center)

Dec 19
Snowshoe Hike
1 PM to 2 PM Going for a snowshoe hike is a wonderful way to enjoy winter and a landscape covered in snow. Hike across the snow-covered terrain as a way to embrace this season’s natural environment. Learn the history of snowshoeing, get tips on different types of snowshoes, and explore fun places at Minneopa State Park. Hike down to the confluence of Minneopa Creek and the Minnesota River. Be prepared for some steep and uneven terrain. This sport is one of the simplest and safest ways to get outdoors during the winter. To rent snowshoes call 507-389-5464 or stop in the  park office.
Minneopa State Park (meet at the Group Campground, Campground side of the park)

Dec 19
Candy Cane Hunt $$$
1–4 PM $7 preregistration for hunters or $9 day-of, $2 spectators. Santa’s elves have hidden candy canes outside ? find three and get a prize! Canes with golden ribbons get larger prizes. Enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride, warm treats, arts, winter games, and photos with Santa. Children 17 years and younger must be accompanied by a registered adult. To preregister, call 763.559.6700. Hunts for children ages 0-4 begin at 1:30 PM and 2:30 PM; hunts for children ages 5-10 begin at 2 PM and 3 PM.
Silverwood Park (2500 County Rd E, St. Anthony, MN 55421)

Dec 19
Feathered Feeder Favorites
1 PM to 2 PM Winter is a great time to do your bird watching from the comfort of inside your home. Join us to find out how to attract birds to your yard, what you may have at your feeders and what they want to eat. You will also get a chance to make your own suet feeder to bring home and hang from a tree. To register, call 651-583-2925 ext. 227.
Wild River State Park (Meet at the visitor center)

Dec 19
Snowshoeing for Beginners
1 PM to 3 PM Learn the history of snowshoes, the different styles available, then if we have enough snow strap some on your feet and walk down the trail. Reservation required if you need to reserve a pair of snowshoes. Meet at the Hwy 96 lot on the Gateway State Trail. 651-231-6968 for more information.
Brown’s Creek State Trail

Dec 19
Snowshoeing for Beginners
1 PM to 2:30 PM Snowshoeing is a fun way to beat those winter blues! Learn the history of snowshoes, and then try on a pair during a guided snowshoe walk. Bring your own snowshoes or use a pair from the park. Program will start inside the Visitor Center, registration is required. Call 612-7258-2724 to register.
Fort Snelling State Park

Dec 19
Winter Solstice Celebration $$$
2–4:30 PM $5 Celebrate the shortest day of the year with light, music and cheer! Explore holiday traditions from around the world. Hike or snowshoe to “tie down” the sun in the prairie. Enjoy warm refreshments by a bonfire and create crafts to take home. Children 17 years and younger must be accompanied by a registered adult. Reservations required by December 16. *20% discount for groups of four or more.
Carl Kroening Interpretive Center

Dec 19
Audubon Christmas Bird Count in Grand Marais
4:15 PM Counters will meet at 4:15 p.m. at the Blue Water Café on count day to compile results from anyone who can make it there at that time. Please contact Grand Marais Audubon Christmas Bird Count Compiler Jeremy Ridlbauer @ sundew@boreal.org or 370-0733 to notify organizers about what area you can cover or what feeder or area you’ll be watching. More info.
Grand Marais, MN



Dec 20
21st Annual Itasca State Park Winter Bird Count —Volunteer Opportunity
8 AM to 3:30 PM This holiday season take part in the annual winter bird count at Itasca State Park on Sunday, December 20, 2015. This year marks the park’s 21st year of participation in the nation-wide Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Explore Itasca’s count area in search of our winter bird residents. Stay a few hours or spend the whole day. Information collected is used to track migration patterns and changes in winter bird species abundance throughout North America. To learn more about this nation-wide bird survey go to: http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count

NOTES: Entire program is held outdoors. Dress warmly for outdoor winter conditions. Bring your lunch if staying for the entire day. The group will gather at the visitor center at Noon for a lunch break. For questions and further details, call 218-699-7259.

Itasca State Park (Meet at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center lobby between 7:30 and 8 a.m.)
Dec 20
Winter Birds at Afton
9 AM to 10:30 AM Winter is a great time to learn to identify birds since there are fewer of them that stay during the winter months. Binoculars and field guides are available to those that need them. A great excuse to get a winter walk in your day!
Afton State Park

Dec 20
Surviving Winter
1 PM to 2:30 PM Come winter, you can leave or you can stay; for wildlife, it’s a life or death decision. Is one choice better than the other? If you choose to stop by the Visitor Center you’ll find out which critters leave, which one’s stay and what amazing things critters will do to stay alive until spring.
Fort Snelling State Park

Dec 20
Beginning Birding with Birds in Your Backyard
1 PM to 2:30 PM Come learn about some of the basic birds that might be hanging out at your bird feeder with some easy tips on how to identify them. We also will be checking out the birds at the bird feeders and learn how you can help identify and record what you are seeing. Learn some basics of the Itasca bird count as well as other easy bird monitoring programs that are available for you to participate in.
Itasca State Park (meet at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center Classroom)



Upcoming . . .

Monday, Dec 21
Snowshoeing (GreenFit Club: Winter Series at Hyland)
5:30–6:30 PM Beat the winter blues and get fit outside. All you need is warm clothing and a spark of motivation. Great instructors, excellent equipment and a beautiful setting make it easy to stick with this program. Activities include yoga, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and more. Equipment provided. Sponsored by Hoigaard’s Reservations required.

Other Activities
Mondays – Snowshoeing*
Wednesdays – Cross-country skiing
Thursdays – Yoga

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Monday, Dec 21
Solstice on the North Shore
Monday, December 21 is the Winter Solstice Shadow Puppet Show at North House Folk School. Outdoor show with bonfire followed by indoor potluck supper, 6 p.m. There everyone enjoys hot chocolate, a bonfire into which one can through their “gloomies,” or dolls representing the negative weight we carry with us, and watch the much anticipated shadow puppet show.
North House Folk School, Grand Marais, MN

Tuesday, Dec 22
Happy Winter Solstice! Celebration $$$
3–8 PM Enjoy bonfires and make Scandinavian-inspired s’mores in the Holiday Square, take a self-guided tour of the Turnblad Mansion’s holiday exhibits and FIKA will be open late for treats and glögg (Swedish mulled wine). Take a ride on a kicksled or play a round of winter kubb. At 4:48 p.m., join ASI for a Winter Solstice performance. The ASI Museum Store and Jul Shop (the holiday pop-up store) will be open late for last-minute holiday gifts and décor. TICKETS This event is included with museum admission and is free for ASI members, however it does require advance tickets.
American Swedish Institute

American Swedish Institute
American Swedish Institute


Dec 26
Winter Nature Hike
1 PM to 3 PM Explore Fort Snelling State Park’s winter wonderland with a park naturalist. We’ll look for animal tracks and signs, talk about the history of the area, and take in the sights of a winter flood plain forest.
Fort Snelling State Park

Dec 26
Moonlit Owl Prowl
6:30 PM to 8 PM We often hear them calling in the dark of night, but most of us are unfamiliar with the elusive creatures known as owls. After a presentation to learn about the owls in our area, we will go “prowling” under the full moon for owls in the park. If there is enough snow, we will be snowshoeing. Bring your own snowshoes or use the park’s.
Whitewater State Park

Dec 27
Meet the Falcons
10 AM Jackie Fallon of the Midwest Peregrine Society will be at Tettegouche State Park on Sunday, December 27th from 10-noon to tell us about peregrine falcons and to introduce us to live peregrine falcons, and other raptors, that she cares for.
Tettegouche State Park (Visitor center)

Tuesday, December 29
Winter Wonderland Family Fun Day
10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Celebrate the season during winter break! Family-friendly activities are tailored to introduce you and your family to a whole new way of enjoying winter! For outdoor activities, wear warm clothing in layers, including waterproof pants and boots. Inside, cozy up to the fireplace and enjoy reading winter books and watching fun nature films or challenge your family to a scavenger hunt! No registration required; snowshoes are provided at no cost.
Bloomington Education and Visitor Center

Dec 29
Snow Princess Adventure
1 PM to 2:30 PM The park is a frozen wonderland at this time of year and we invite adventurers ages 6-10 and their adults to enjoy it during a special program. Make a one-of-a-kind crown with the naturalist and explore the power of snow and ice as we hunt for snowflakes, make ice castles, and build snowmen. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Costumes are welcome as long as they fit over or under winter layers and boots. We’ll start indoors at the visitor center and then head outside for our adventure. Pre-register, email: jenni.webster@state.mn.us
Wild River State Park

Wednesday, December 30
Family Snowshoe Hike
10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Discover a fun new way to explore outside in winter! We will learn a bit about snowshoes, then strap them on and wind our way down into the river valley, looking for animal tracks as we go. Recommended for families with children ages 8 and up. Snowshoes are provided at no cost.
Bloomington Education and Visitor Center and Hillside Trail

Dec 30
The Scoop on Snowflakes
1 PM to 2 PM Discover just how cool snowflakes really are by learning about the science behind those tiny ice crystals! After taking a close look at them, you will make a snowflake to take home that will last all year-long. Geared for kids ages 7 and up.
Jay Cooke State Park (This program is mostly indoors at the River Inn Interpretive Center)

Wednesday, December 30
Film: After the Birds Taught Me to Fly
2:00–3:30 p.m. In June 2015, as part of the Twin Cities Urban Bird Festival, PlaceBase Productions and refuge volunteers performed Birdwatching Theatre on the paths of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The performers visited four flocks of refuge birds and observed their behavior through the eyes and imagination of an eight year old birdwatcher. Over the course of this theatrical journey audiences explored the history of the refuge, the history of the South Loop Community in Bloomington, and the lives and behaviors of over 25 of the refuge’s feathered residents. Prepare for laughter, music, dancing, and luxurious costumes in this original, jaw-dropping, community-driven performance available on film in the comfort of our Auditorium.
Bloomington Education and Visitor Center (Auditorium)

Saturday, January 2
Bird Language
9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Join us as we gather on the slopes of the Minnesota River Valley to explore what the birds are telling us about our surroundings. We will split the time between the classroom and outdoors. Bring a notebook, pencils, and something to sit on outdoors. Register.
Bloomington Education and Visitor Center (Classroom A)

Saturday, January 2
Winter Photography Lecture and Photo Hike
9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Taking photos in the winter can be a real challenge. Our cameras like to make the snow look a dingy grey, and all of the people in the shots come out very dark. Despite all of this, wither offers some amazing benefits to photographers. We can access areas that are normally inaccessible. In addition, with proper preparation we can capture some amazing images. During this session, we will cover:

1. How to set your camera for winter shooting.
2. Winter shooting techniques.
3. Winter shooting locations.
4. How to stay warm.
5. How to protect your gear.

After the lecture, we will go out and practice along the trails of the refuge.
Bloomington Education and Visitor Center (Auditorium)

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