Sunday, December 18, 2016

Enjoy Learning about Nature? Become a Master Naturalist!

By Sage Passi and Cathy Troendle
Bev Blomgren, a Master Naturalist, enjoys learning about nature,
teaching and helping engage citizens of all ages in conservation efforts.

Photo Credit: Bev Blomgren 

If you enjoy exploring nature and are curious about the state's geology, animal life, plants, ecology, water and history, then this program is for you. Any adult who is curious and enjoys learning about the natural world, shares that knowledge with others and supports conservation can be a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer. 

North St. Paul is the host site for an up-coming series of Big Woods Big River classes for people interested in becoming certified as a Master Naturalist. The course starts in February 2017 and will be held at the new Casey Lake Park building in North St. Paul.

The mission of the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is to promote awareness, understanding and stewardship of Minnesota's natural environment by developing a corps of well-informed citizens dedicated to conservation education and service within their communities

Each course focuses on one of Minnesota’s three major biomes:
Big Woods, Big River, Prairie and Potholes, and Northwoods, Great Lakes.

The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is a joint effort of the University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In 2012 North St. Paul hosted the 100th course offered by the Master Naturalist program which began in Minnesota in 2005. Since then, North St. Paul has hosted three of these series of classes.

The North St. Paul Master Naturalist Big Woods, Big River Class of 2007
This year's course in North St. Paul includes hands-on classroom activities and two required field trips on Saturday, April 1, and Saturday, April 29, from 8-5 each day. Attendance at all sessions is required. Classes will be held in the new park building at Casey Lake at 2039 17th Avenue East in North St. Paul.


Course Instructors:
Beth Girard volunteers at the Raptor
Center and provides programs for the
Minnesota Herpetological Society.

Beth Girard volunteers in the Raptor Center's clinic. She presents programs for the Minnesota Herpetological Society and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge system. She also volunteers for several herp-related monitoring projects.

Cathy Troendle has been a very active Master Naturalist
leader in Southwood Nature Preserve since 2007.

Cathy Troendle’s lifelong passion for nature and working with young people converged in the Master Naturalist Program. Since 2007, Cathy has developed classroom and outdoor programming for grade school students, field days for middle school students, recruited high school students to assist in invasive plant removal in Southwood Nature Preserve, and developed an educational Prairie Days Event for the general public. She has been actively managing a woodland trail restoration, as well as an acre of prairie restoration in Southwood Nature Preserve.

Cathy Troendle organizes a field day for Maplewood Middle School
students each spring at Southwood Nature Preserve.


Master Naturalist Deb Armstrong (left) teaches about water critters
with DNR Project Wet educator Janine Kohn (right)
at the wetland in Southwood Nature Preserve.

Participants will work together in groups to complete capstone projects within North Saint Paul once the training is completed.

North St. Paul has been actively managing natural resources in the city including shoreline restoration projects at Silver Lake, the installation of curb-cut rain gardens, the creation of an infiltration pond at Silver Lake and the restoration of 28 acres at Southwood Nature Preserve including woodland, prairie, oak savanna and wetlands.


Master Naturalist Deb Armstrong and North High's
Junior ROTC youth work together to remove buckthorn
at Southwood Nature Preserve. To avoid soil disturbance,
they cut and treat each stem individually.

Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District will host one of the field trips for the course. Watershed staff will provide content assistance for several of the classes. RWMWD has been providing support for North St. Paul for many years to improve the water quality at Casey Lake through the removal of carp and the stocking of bluegill, shoreline restoration plantings, aquatic plant management and the building of neighborhood rain gardens in the Casey Lake neighborhood.

The course cost is $275 and includes course materials and supplies. If you are a North St. Paul resident, this cost will be reimbursed once you have completed all coursework and forty hours service to North St. Paul. If the course cost is a hardship for participants, please fill out and submit the scholarship application.

Course Details:

Meeting 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM on Tuesdays: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM on two Saturdays
  • Tuesday, February 21
  • Tuesday, February 28
  • Tuesday, March 7
  • Tuesday, March 14
  • Tuesday, March 21
  • Tuesday, March 28
  • Saturday, April 1
  • Tuesday, April 4
  • Tuesday, April 18
  • Tuesday, April 25
  • Saturday, April 29
  • Tuesday, May 2
To register click on this LINK. For more questions about the program please contact course instructor Cathy Troendle at or by phone at 651-779-8699.

Take the first step and sign up to become a Master Naturalist this winter.

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