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The Naturalist - 07 Thinking Critically about the Volunteer Experience

Episode 7 - Thinking Critically about the Volunteer Experience

Managing volunteers for a planned event can be a difficult challenge. For this episode of The Naturalist, we get some tips and tricks on how to do just that from Extension Educators Andrea Strauss and Angela Gupta.

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The Naturalist - 06 North Shore Forest Restoration

Episode 6 - North Shore Forest Restoration

Forest restoration on the North Shore of Lake Superior is a long and complicated process. Climate change, wildlife, and stakeholder interest are only a few of the factors that come into play. Learn more about what it takes to develop a project on this scale. 

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Interested in helping monitor the impacts of deer on forest vegetation? Become an AVID volunteer!

Be AVID about forest health! Announcing the Assessing Vegetation Impacts from Deer (AVID) program Become a volunteer! Visit our website at for more information! Deer are a keystone species across Minnesota’s woodlands. They are considered a keystone species because when there are high deer populations, the composition and structure of the forest can change. Deer prefer tree species like pines and maples, but will also avoid certain plants. When there are deer present in a woodland they will browse the species that are preferred or palatable. So if there are high populations of deer in an area, the plants that they prefer will get more heavily browsed which can lead to other plants (that deer don’t like) outcompeting and taking over. Given the influence the size of deer populations can have on woodlands, it is important to monitor vegetation impacts from deer. If populations of deer are too large, it can put stress on important and economically and ecologically valuabl…

Bee Atlas 2016 bee blocks

The Minnesota Bee Atlas is excited to share the results from our 2016 bee blocks.  Citizen science volunteers observed 116 blocks across Minnesota from April to October, 2016 to see which of the six sizes of holes were being used for nests and what materials were being used.  Female solitary bees began building nests in the backs of the holes by laying an egg on a ball of pollen and sealing off the chamber before laying another egg.  The resulting larvae would typically overwinter before emerging from the nests as adults the following spring or summer but the blocks were instead returned to St. Paul campus and placed in cold storage to simulate a Minnesota winter.  As the blocks were warmed in the spring of 2017, adult bees, wasps, and other invertebrates emerged.  Each specimen was pinned, identified, and will be stored permanently in the University of Minnesota Insect Collection.

More than 2500 specimens were recorded, including 1218 bees and 1140 wasps.  Representing 8 genera and 2…

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. 

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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.  

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

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 conv…