April E-Blast

Here you can find news, upcoming events, and volunteer opportunities. Thank you for keeping up with us!

Nature Center News

A great year for syrup!

This year was our second best year on record for sap collection; we gathered 680 gallons of sap in March and April! That allowed us to generate 17 gallons of syrup, or 171 bottles of sap.

Preparing for Bees

Our naturalists are hard at work preparing hives for the arrival of bees in late Spring. We have been scraping frames to ensure that our new bees have a healthy home by ridding frames of potential pests and pathogens. We are excited to welcome new pollinators in May!

Preschool and Kindergarten Exploration

April was a great month for phenology, and for discovering returning birds and blooming flowers with preschool and kindergarten students. We learned about some of our resident critters, and returning spring species. We even saw the first blooms of bluebells!

Gravel Bed Planting

Our gravel bed has been filled with saplings, which will spend the summer growing strong roots. We are currently growing several varieties, including beech, coffee tree, elm, cottonwood, basswood, sycamore, hackberry, tulip tree, swamp oak, and more.

Join our Astronomy Club

Looking for a fun way to get some extra volunteer hours this summer? Do you love space and astronomy? Well then do we have just the thing for you!

The nature center is revamping the old Cedar River Astronomy Club this year! Free to join and open to all ages and skill levels, the Cedar River Astronomy Club will teach you all kinds of fun about the night sky. Volunteer at our Sola Fide public open house events throughout the summer, and you might just get a chance to run our big telescope all by yourself!

The first club meeting is on May 12th, from 8-10pm in the Gordon Lonning Conference room in the Interpretive Center. We'll start with a brief introduction to the club and then head out to Sola Fide if the skies are clear. Hope to see you there!

Read more about the club and its history on our website under the tab 'Sola Fide Observatory'.

Friends Focus

On April 29th we hosted our annual Friends Member and Volunteer Appreciation Event! Congratulations to this year's Volunteer of the Year, Phil Burkhart, and our Leadership Award Winner, Lee Bjorndal.

Phil has been a very prominent member of our Austin community, from teaching, subbing, and working with the orchestra, to volunteering at the Nature Center. Phil has been a dependable volunteer for us, and is always happy to help anyway that he can. This past year, he has volunteered his time running the front desk, leading trail tours, and restoring our forests. His willingness to take folks on our trails and share his knowledge about the nature world has been extremely helpful. We are grateful to him, and are thrilled to award him with this year’s Volunteer of the Year Award.

Lee has given a lot of his time to the Nature Center as a volunteer and as a Friend’s board member, during which he brought lots of great ideas and donated his time to make the Nature Center a better place. He is always willing to assist with events, and has helped us complete several projects, including land acquisition, updating our bylaws, creating trail signage, and more. He was a strong voice on the Friend’s board for 6 years, and while his time on our board is done, we are grateful for his continued volunteer work and care for the Nature Center. We are excited to announce that this year’s Leadership Award.

Coming Up at the Nature Center

  • PolliNatives Presentation by Don Smith - May 5th, 7pm-8pm
  • First Astronomy Club Meeting - May 12th, 8pm-10pm
  • World Migratory Bird Day; look for birds and pick up a specialty sticker!- May 13th
  • Sola Fide Observatory open - May 13th (9pm-11pm) and May 27th (9:30pm-11pm)
  • Garage Sale - May 20th, 10am-4pm
  • Streams to Sea Class with Julie Hecimovich - May 22nd and 23rd, 3:30pm-4:30pm OR 6pm-7pm [Register online]
  • Canoe and Kayak Rental begins - May 27th

Volunteer Opportunities

  1. Staff the Interpretive Center — There are always days that we are looking for help, specifically on the weekends. Fill out our volunteer contact form and we will add you to our email list. 
  2. Tours — Give tours driving one of our electric vehicles along the Nature Center trails.​
  3. Combat Invasive Species — Learn to identify and remove buckthorn, honeysuckle, and other invasive species.
  4. Animal transport — Bring birds of prey to and from the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus.

Garage sale

Join us for our garage sale on May 20th from 10am-4pm. Items on sale will include cross-country skis, poles, and boots, with sizes ranging from youth to adult, as well as lifejackets, kayaks (repair needed) and other miscellaneous items. Don't miss your chance to purchase equipment for a fraction of the original price!

Photo by Nichole Jacko

May Nature Note

Intelligent Little Insects

One of the most talked about pollinators in the past few years here at the Hormel Nature Center have been our honeybees. We have already learned so much about bees, such as; the male bees do not have stingers, the female bees are the ones who go out and collect the nectar and pollen, and that bees communicate with each other through dance! Recently, there was a study that came out that shed more light on this waggle dance. To learn more about this new study, read the rest of Sydney Weisinger's Nature Note here!

Become a Friends Member

Why join the friends? Well, our Friends allow us to offer more high quality programming, conserve our natural spaces, and continue to grow! As a friends member, you will receive...

  • an invitation to the Friends Annual Meeting
  • $5.00 off all Summer Adventure Programs
  • 15% off all Nature Center merchandise​​
  • the chance to participate in members-only events and classes for youth and families at the Nature Center
  • a discounted annual bus trip

Join the Friends here!

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