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Friday, April 17, 2015

Monarch Citizen Science Project on PBS show SciGirls

The third season of the hit PBS show SciGirls is focusing entirely on citizen science. The show, which encourages girls to become involved in science and engineering, will begin airing its latest season this month. One entire episode will depict girls participating in the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, which is led by Extension faculty, Karen Oberhauser. You can view a preview of the season here, and check your local listings to find out when the show airs on your local PBS station.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Minnesota Master Naturalist is EXCITED to welcome Sam Ham to Minnesota for an environmental interpretation presentation

The Minnesota Master Naturalist program will welcome Dr. Sam Ham to Minnesota for a environmental interpretation presentations on July 21-22, 2015 in Mankato MN.

In two-hour keynote address on July 21, Dr. Ham will draw on recent advances in communication research to pose some questions about the "endgame" of interpretation--when is interpretation "successful?", what does professional "excellence" in interpretation look like?, and how would you recognize it? Interpreters who want their work to make a difference have a great advantage when they can envision the pathways through which making their difference can plausibly happen. And seeing these pathways is far easier when you have a clear sense of interpretation's endgame.

In a July 22 workshop, open only to Master Naturalist Instructors, Dr. Ham will lead participants through a series of practical exercises that they can use to train others in thematic interpretation. These exercises will emphasize how to think thematically, how to distinguish between strong and weak themes, and how to craft strong themes that will provoke an audience to think. Ham will also introduce the "zone of tolerance" idea and explain why it is needed to know how "successful" a thematic interpretive product is.

Dr. Sam Ham is Professor Emeritus of communication psychology and international conservation in the University of Idaho's Department of Conservation Social Sciences. Sam's research has focused on the role of interpretation in parks, protected areas and sustainable tourism destinations and in applying communication theory to heritage and nature-based tour guiding, travelers' philanthropy, and other free-choice learning settings.

Master Naturalist instructors can attend these events for FREE (all expenses covered by Bertha Lewis Trust Fund)

All others are invited to the evening Keynote program for a plated dinner and evening with Sam Ham! Students $20, General registration $40.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Citizen Science in Action: Driven to Discover Project Featured on PBS News

The NSF-Funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry Through Citizen Science project was featured this week in a story about the SciGirls television show. The PBS NewsHour show briefly highlighted how citizen science is helping to involve young women to explore and observe their natural surroundings, learn and participate in scientific data collection, and even answer their own scientific questions.

You can learn more about the Driven to Discover project on the University of Minnesota Extension Citizen Science website. You can also watch a short video about the project.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Master Naturalists Participate in National Public Lands Day in Minnesota

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
bud capping.jpg

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.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oberhauser Discusses Monarch Citizen Science on KARE 11

Thumbnail image for EXT_PHOTO_OBERH001.jpgFish, Wildlife and Conservation Education Specialist, Dr. Karen Oberhauser was featured in an KARE 11 story about the role of Minnesota Citizen Science in understanding the migration of Monarch butterflies. The story highlighted the new Butterfly House at the Science Museum of Minnesota, and associated Omnitheater film, Flight of the Butterflies. Oberhauser was an advisor on the film. She noted that the movie "not only captures the biology, but also this incredible human story," illustrated by one of the citizen scientists who tagged Monarchs for a research study at University of Minnesota. "This tag, a tag that was put on by Minnesota students and a Minnesota teacher, was the first one that Fred Erkhadt found in the over wintering sites when he went there. So it's a great connection with Minnesota," Oberhauser explained on KARE 11.

Visit the University of Minnesota Extension Citizen Science website to learn about ways to get involved in citizen science.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Check out Brian Cox's Guide to Becoming a Citizen Scientist

Many Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education programs focus on empowering and supporting citizen science about Minnesota's environment. The Guardian recently published a brief Guide to Becoming a Citizen Scientist by BBC-famed scientist, Brian Cox. Cox aptly points out the critical need for citizen science: We have access to so much data in the modern age, but not enough professional scientists to analyze it all. However, there is amazing, largely untapped scientific potential in our interested citizenry. Today, we can all assume a critical role in the wonder of scientific research. Cox points out, "The real thrill of citizen science is being able to look at something no one has ever seen before, or discover something that no one knew about. I can try to describe that feeling, but it's not until you experience it for yourself that you'll understand the wonder. It's why people become scientists."

Cox points out a few large-scale and smaller, personal ways that you can get started in citizen science. He also briefly discusses the history and value of citizen scientific research. Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education staff have likewise published a series of informative videos about citizen science on the University of Minnesota Extension YouTube Channel. The video What is Citizen Science provides a short description of the history and reason for citizen scientific research.

Visit the University of Minnesota Extension Citizen Science website to learn more about programming to support citizen science.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Northern Minnesota Invasive Blitz Trains Volunteers to Prevent Spread of Invasive Species

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!

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