March E-Blast

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

Nature Center News

It is with heavy hearts that we bring the sad news of the passing of our female red tailed hawk, Wiyaka. She was around 8 years old and with us here at the nature center since the new building opened in 2017. Her name comes from the Lakota word for feather, and Wiyaka’s plumage was unmatched.

Her journey to us started in Indiana where she got into a tussle with a car and sustained some injuries to her left wing making it impossible for her to be released back into the wild after rehabilitation. She found her new home with us here in Austin and has been spoiled and cared for ever since. In the past few weeks we noticed a rapid decline in her health relating to complications from her old wing injury. It got to the point that we could not insure the highest comfort or quality of life for her and we had to say our goodbyes.

Wiyaka had a fiery spirit and attitude fit for a top predator making her such a great education bird. Her motivation, smarts, and sharp wit made her such a fun challenge when it came to training. At times we wondered if we were training her or she was training us! For the past few years Wiyaka and our staff worked hard to get her gloved trained so she could enjoy walks in the sunshine, do programs for visitors, as well as have more one-on-one training. Her unique and strong personality made it impossible to not love her.

Fly High Wi, the skies are yours once again. We miss you already.

The Nature Center's new Evaporator is hard at work this March! In one maple syrup season, we will teach over 600 4th graders how to identify and tap silver maple trees, make maple syrup, and about the indigenous history of maple syruping.

A special thank you to the Friends for purchasing our new evaporator pan!

The Nature Center offers full and partial scholarships for our summer adventure classes! Full scholarships are offered for all classes under $60, and half scholarships are offered for classes over $60.

To apply, each student must write a few sentences on why they would like to take that class, and thank the scholarship donors. Scholarships are limited to one per child, and applications will be accepted starting today!

Registration for our summer adventure classes opens April 3rd! To learn more and plan what you wish to register for, click here or swing into the Nature Center and pick up a copy of our freshly printed newsletters.

We are excited to announce that the Nature Center has purchased a planetarium! Thanks to Paul Worlein and funding from the Friends, we will be able to utilize the planetarium for a variety of space and earth science programming. More news on public programming with our planetatrium coming soon!

Friends Focus

The Friends of the Hormel Nature Center is hosting a Business After Hours event for Austin City Chamber members, in order to get more of our community connected with the nature center, possibly tour the interpretive center for the first time, and see the nature center in a fun and different way for adults.

Coming up at the Nature Center

  • Registration for summer classes opens; Mon, April 3rd
  • INTERPRETIVE CENTER CLOSED; Wed, April 5th and Sun, April 9th
  • FREE Audubon Presentation The Birds of Okinawa; Tues, April 18th, 7pm-8pm
  • Blood Drive; Fri, April 21st, 10am-4pm
  • FREE Sola Fide - Night Sky Viewing; Sat, April 22nd, 8-10pm
  • Friends and Volunteer Appreciation Event; Sat, Apr 29th, 1:30-3:00pm

Volunteer Opportunities

  • 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. 
  • Tours — Give tours driving one of our electric vehicles along the Nature Center trails.​
  • Combat Invasive Species — Learn to identify and remove buckthorn, honeysuckle, and other invasive species.
  • Animal transport — Bring birds of prey to and from the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus.

Celebrate Earth Day with us!

Join us on April 22nd to celebrate our beautiful planet. Events include;

  • Volunteer led Trail Clean Up; we will have equipment for volunteers to assist in cleaning our trails. No registration required.
  • Pine Cone Bird Feeder Craft; celebrate our wonderful Earth by giving back with eco-friendly bird feeders. No registration required.
  • Clean Water Takes a Lot of Mussel Power; 1-2pm, Join mussel biologist, Madeline Pletta, to learn about how mussels historically and presently are a HUGE help to clean the earth’s waterways. No registration required.
  • Tree-mendous Trees with Julie Hecimovich; 10am-11am, ages birth - 3 years old welcome. Registration begins April 3rd.
  • Celebrate Earth! with Julie Hecimovich; 1pm-2pm, 4 - 7 year old learners welcome. Registration begins April 3rd.

April Nature Note - The Bugs Are Back, Alright!

By Meredith Maloney, Office Manager/Naturalist

"As April approaches and frosts begin to dwindle, the ecosystems of Minnesota awaken. Green creeps back to our forests, birds return and sing for companionship, and to the dismay of many, bugs reappear. I often wondered as a kid, where did the bugs go in wintertime? Did they die, and come back to life? Did they leave, and fly back? If they stayed here, how did they not freeze to death?"

To learn more and have all of these questions answered, read the full 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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Jay C. Hormel Nature Center | 1304 21st Street NE, Austin, MN, 55912 | (507) 437-7519