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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Naturalist - 05 Youth and Aquatic Invasive Species

Episode 5 - Youth and Aquatic Invasive Species

This past summer Becky Meyer, and Educator with University of Minnesota Extension took part in the first run of Water Watchers, a program aimed at introducing youth to the world of aquatic invasive species. For this episode, we sit with Becky and discuss the development of the program and its future. 

Music by Twin Musicom.

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The Naturalist - 04 Deer Management in Minnesota

Episode 4 - Deer Management in Minnesota

Deer can have a major impact on a variety of things. Some of which you might not directly think about. Join us as we dig into this complex topic with Extension Educators Matt Russell and Johanna Desprez.  

Music by Twin Musicom.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Meredith Cornett from The Nature Conservancy takes part in The Minnesota Bee Atlas Program

Agapostemon virescens, a Western hemisphere sweat bee. Photo © sankax/Flckr 

Meredith Cornett has directed The Nature Conservancy’s science program in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota since August 2003. Between the months of April and October, Meredith took part in this year's Bee Atlas survey project. You can read all about her experience here - from learning about the program to signing up, installing a bee nesting block on her property, and making observations with her family. 

The Minnesota Bee Atlas, a four-year project funded by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), is a citizen science program designed to use volunteer participants to create a state-wide list of native bees found in Minnesota. The last time a survey of Minnesota bees was completed was in 1919 when only 67 species were listed. 

We recently sat down with Elaine Evans and Britt Forsberg from The Bee Atlas program to discuss bees, the impact of citizen scientists on their surveying efforts, and how people can get involved. You can listen to that conversation below in the third episode of University of Minnesota Extension's  The Naturalist podcast. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Naturalist - 03 Bee Atlas and Citizen Science

Episode 3 - Bee Atlas and Citizen Science

On this episode of the Naturalist we get a chance to sit down and discuss bee populations in Minnesota with Extension Educator, Elaine Evans, and Bee Atlas Program Coordinator, Britt Forsberg.  

Music by Twin Musicom and Silent Partner

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

National Public Lands Day 2017 in Minnesota

National Public Lands Day in Minnesota

National Public Lands Day is the largest, single-day, service effort for public lands. Since 2012, the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program has facilitated this effort at sites across the state. More than 850 volunteers have removed invasive species, planted pollinator gardens, and protected newly planted trees, among other projects, for over 4,000 service hours to date. This year, the MN Master Naturalist Program encourages residents to join this growing tradition of stewardship through service at one of 12 locations in Minnesota.

Volunteers taking part in last year's bud-capping NPLD event
at Itasca State Park 
Locations can be found all over the state. From Indian Heights Park in Rochester to Boulder Lake ELC in Duluth. If you are interested in registering for this year's NPLD, log on to If this is your first time visiting the site, you'll be asked to make an account. With this account, you'll be able to sign up for any future Master Naturalist classes. Register before this Saturday, September 9th, and you will get a Master Naturalist NPLD 2017 t-shirt at event sign-in. Below is a map of all the locations across the state. Map is no longer available. Event date has passed.

Master Naturalist Volunteers taking part in a prairie restoration
 project at Prairie Woods ELC for NPLD 2016
If you are looking to get down and dirty, then you might consider going to Indian Heights Park in Rochester, where volunteers will be helping remove invasive buckthorn from sections of the park. If buckthorn removal is not a possibility, volunteers are welcome to help the staff of Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul with managing their NPLD celebration. There is an opportunity available for everyone!

This is shaping up to be a great event. The MNAT team is hoping to see you at this year's NPLD!

Any specific questions can be forwarded to Santiago Pelaez at

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Naturalist - 02 Getting Involved in the World of Phenology

Episode 2 - Getting Involved in the World of Phenology

On this episode of the Naturalist, we get a chance to talk phenology with Staff Phenologist John Latimer from KAXE Community Radio in Grand Rapids and Associate Extension Professor Eli Sagor. 

Music by Twin Musicom

   Listen on Google Play Music

Friday, April 21, 2017

Mason Bees

Mason bees, one of the earliest spring bees in Minnesota, are out pollinating in full force. In contrast to most other solitary bees, mason bees spend the winter as adults in cocoons.  This allows them to emerge earlier in spring than many other bees that overwinter as larvae and still need to pupate before emerging as an adult.

Mason bees get their common name from the habit many have of lining and sealing their nests with mud.  In spring, a single solitary female mason bee will start building a nest in an empty cavity like a hollow stem, beetle burrow, or hole in the ground.  Starting at the back of the hole, she will place a ball of pollen, lay an egg, and then seal off the chamber with mud or chewed leaves.  She will continue this way until the entire tunnel is full.

There are 30 species of mason bees (genus Osmia) in the eastern United States and Canada.  Of those, 15 species are likely to be found in bee blocks in Minnesota. Female mason bees use the hairs on the undersides of their abdomens to collect pollen from willows, maples, plums, Virginia waterleaf, wild geranium, and other spring wildflowers.  They will then bring the pollen back to the nest to provision cells for their offspring.

Mason bees are commonly used to pollinate agricultural crops like apples, cherries, and plums due to their early spring activity and the ease of providing artificial nests.

For more information on mason bees, look for "Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide" by Heather Holm or "The Bees in Your Backyard" by Joseph Wilson and Olivia Messinger Carril.
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