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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Watch A Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer TEDx Talk about Local Prairies

What happens when we restore our home to more natural surroundings? Chris Schad is a Certified Master Naturalist and Past President of the SE Minnesota Beekeepers Association. In a 15 minute TEDX Talk, he discusses the big changes that occurred when he restored a small portion of his home property back to native prairie. Enjoy learning from his experience.

Visit to learn more about the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Survey reveals interest in a Citizen Science network for Minnesota

A recent survey of citizen science practitioners across Minnesota revealed strong interest in building a statewide network to inform, connect and educate about citizen science. Conducted by the University of Minnesota Extension’s Community of Practice for Citizen Science, the survey’s goal was to identify those working in citizen science and find out if there is interest in working together to use citizen science to strengthen conservation, education, community and other outcomes.

The initial invitation to complete the survey was sent to 100 participants in a University-sponsored Convergence Colloquium networking event on the topic of citizen science. Respondents were encouraged to forward the survey invitation to others in their contacts lists who may be interested, resulting in a “snowball” sampling.

To date, 92 respondents from a variety of agencies and organizations have completed the survey.

With instructions to “Check all that apply,” more than half the respondents reported affiliations with a college or university (52%), with the second largest group (20%) from a non-profit organization. The remaining respondents identified with a state agency (11%), watershed management organization (10%), school district (5%), park district (2%), and a sprinkling of city/municipality, regional/county government, federal agency, and small business affiliations.

These respondents chose a role that best described their primary work with citizen science:

Respondents reported an overwhelmingly positive interest in participating in a network of citizen science practitioners to inform, connect and educate each other about topics related to citizen science. Those responding “It depends” referenced concerns about topics and time availability.

With this clear demonstration of interest, respondents indicated that in-person conferences and workshops are ways they’d like to participate in a network. Social media and webinars were also indicated as communication methods they were likely to participate in, with casual meet-ups and networking events being highly unlikely options they’d engage in.

When this group gathers for training or conferences, the priority topics participants would like to see are indicated in order of preference:

Networking with others working in citizen science
Using citizen science to teach environmental education/STEM
Funding opportunities
Ensuring quality data
Volunteer training
Data entry tools/platforms
Case studies of specific citizen science programs
Citizen science-related work going on at the national and international levels
Developing instructional materials (volunteer manual, activity materials, etc.)
Volunteer management
Volunteer recruitment

Next Steps
Extension’s Community of Practice for Citizen Science is exploring ways to connect the statewide audience of professionals working in the area of citizen science. Ideas include a conference or summit, a training workshop series, or webinars.

The University of Minnesota Extension Community of Practice for Citizen Science includes Extension Educators from a variety of disciplines who are working to raise awareness of the citizen science work going on in Extension and, ultimately, strengthen the outcomes of citizen science programs by improving their ability to engage and support volunteers to provide accurate, continued data collection.

For more information, please contact Andrea at

By: Andrea Lorek Strauss, Extension Educator – Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Education

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Minnesota Master Naturalist Program receives 2016 ANROSP Outstanding Program Evaluation Award

The Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs (ANROSP) concluded its national conference with an awards ceremony held at the Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary.

The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program received the 2016 ANROSP Outstanding Program Evaluation Award. This award recognizes the value and importance of program evaluation by highlighting ANROSP member program evaluation efforts, including the tools used to conduct evaluations and communications efforts employed to share results.

Founded in 2005, the occasion of the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program’s 10th anniversary prompted program managers to stop and reflect on the past accomplishments and future directions for the program. Since its inception, the program has had a rigorous evaluation process. Using data collected in a custom-built on-line reporting system, a statewide overview was conducted to examine coverage across Minnesota and then to analyze how Minnesota Master Naturalist has worked with programs nationally, demonstrating the expanding impact of one state’s program. A full-color booklet, available in print and online, was developed and circulated to share the results.

Amy Rager, Minnesota Master Naturalist Program Director, Andrea Lorek Strauss, and Britt Forsberg accepted the award on behalf of the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program, University of Minnesota Extension. Amy Rager, ANROSP President and Minnesota Master Naturalist Program Director, said "ANROSP provides member programs an opportunity to share their best work in the areas of Outstanding Educational Materials, Outstanding Volunteer Project, Outstanding Team, Outstanding Program Evaluation and Program of the Year.  Each year ANROSP is proud to highlight programs from across the United States in each of these categories." Award applications are peer reviewed and selection is made by the ANROSP Awards Committee, chaired by the ANROSP Vice President.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Volunteer Across Minnesota on National Public Lands Day, September 24th

The Minnesota Master Naturalist program is facilitating National Public Lands Day (September 24th, 2016) volunteer sites across the state. Explore the map below to find a location, view a project description, and get a link to registration. The full list of sites is also available on our website. See you in the field!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Extension Specialists Discuss Pollinators on MPR

Tune-in to Minnesota Public Radio MPR News at 11:00am this morning to hear Extension Specialists, Karen Oberhauser and Marla Spivak, and Dan Cariveau from the Department of Entomology discuss Minnesota's pollinators.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Driven to Discover Partner Wins State Environmental Education Award

Congratulations to the Milwaukee Urban Ecology Center & Ken Leinbach, recipient of the 2016 Dave Engleson Award from the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education. The prestigious David Engleson Award is awarded to individuals, agencies, and organizations that make significant contributions to the field of environmental education.

A brief video about the award recipient includes images and an interview with a youth participant in the University of Minnesota Driven to Discover program. Urban Ecology Center was a key partner in helping University of Minnesota Extension faculty develop and test the Driven to Discover program, which involves youth and adult leaders in citizen science and conducting their own scientific investigations. A brief video on the Driven to Discover site describes an Urban Ecology Center investigation to compare bird species in different habitats.

Visit the Driven to Discover website to learn more about the program for youth and adult leaders.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Master Naturalist Volunteer Coordinates Rochester Weed Warriors Against Garlic Mustard

The Rochester Post-Bulletin has published a brief article about efforts of Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer, Terri Dugan, to coordinate "Weed Warriors" to eradicate garlic mustard at the Quarry Hill Nature Center. The paper quotes her as saying, "My hope is eventually every invasive species control class conducted by professionals will include contact information and an invitation to join the Weed Warriors." Congratulations to Dugan and the Warriors in Rochester!

Visit the Extension website to learn more about the Minnesota Master Naturalist program.
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