We Need Good People! Volunteer Opportunities

MRVAC can always use volunteers for both short term projects and longer term commitments.

Treasurer  Bob Williams will retire as Treasurer in May 2018. He is willing to coach the new Treasurer through the first year. Duties include checking the PO Box, depositing checks, paying bills and reporting on account balance, income and expenses and keeping current with state and federal filings. bxwilliams@cbburnet.com

Board members  meet once a month. During the meetings, the board makes decisions about spending money (i.e. the grants offered by the chapter – see more about past awards on the web: http://mrvac.org/grants/ ) responds to requests. The board also plans ways to raise money, attract members and increase diversity.

Board members periodically take on a special project approved by the board like helping with the fundraising auction, planning a special celebration, finding volunteers to help with an event at the refuge, attracting new and retaining existing members, recruiting speakers, helping partner organizations (e.g. 2 board members led 2 field trips for East Side Neighborhood Services, related to their grant).

There is no immediate opening on the board, but interested persons could start attending meetings now to get up-to-speed! Contact Rick Magee, MRVAC secretary or any other board member: rrickvex@live.com

Membership chair  – welcome everyone attending the monthly meetings (make sure someone is at the nametag table) send the annual renewal mailing to local members and work with National as needed to keep membership list up to date. (Greg Burnes is filling in for now.) gburnes@comcast.net

Newsletter editor  – Anne Hanley would like to take a break for 2 years until she retires. If someone could fill in, that would be marvelous! anne_hanley90@hotmail.com

Field trip leaders and assistants  If interested, contact Cheri Fox at cherifoxj@gmail.com

MRVAC 50th Anniversary Celebration Report

Bob Janssen introduces speaker Al Batt

The 50th  Anniversary celebration on September 28 was a wonderful evening. It included delicious snacks including Italian bruschetta trays, fruit plates and caprese skewers from Kowalski’s, organized by Betsy Magee and Robin Kutz. In addition to the savory snacks, there was a magnificent cake – marble with white frosting and a teal MRVAC logo in the center.

As people checked in, they had an opportunity to get their photo taken in front of their favorite Chef Eric Gideon Baker’s photo in the gallery.

Thanks to our photographer-extraordinaire for the evening, Media Mike Hazard!

Bob Janssen introduced Al Batt with a story about how Al promised to show him a black billed cuckoo in Freeborn County but somehow Bob never did get see a black billed cuckoo – and is still missing one for his Freeborn County list.

Al Batt told delightful stories about how his love of birds started along with moving examples of how individuals have made a difference, making the world better for people and birds.

He describes Freeborn county residents enlisting local business to clean up Albert Lea Lake (including pulling a quarter of a steer out of the lake and depositing it in the Hormel board room), Owen Johnson’s persistence in building local support and persuading the legislature to create Myre-Big Island State Park to his father taking time out from milking cows to watch a Snowy Owl with young Al, as well as Al’s own commitment to taking children out birding.

His talk ended with ‘Thanks for all you do’, reminding us again that we can each make a difference.

Robin Kutz wheels in the food.
Betsy Magee sets up in the Visitor Center.

Holiday Auction! Thursday, November 16

Get some of your holiday shopping done, have fun and raise money to support a variety of environmental education projects. Come and bid often, bid high and have fun doing it for our environmental education program!

If you can donate auction items or provide refreshments, thank you!!

Where: Our annual fundraising auction will be held at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center: 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington

When: Thursday November 16, 2017 at 5:30-9:00 pm

  • 5:30 pm  Drop off auction donations, check out the items on offer and enjoy  refreshments.
  • 6:45 – 8:15 pm  Live auction – Mark Lystig and Scott Clark team up again. If you attended in past years, you know they are not to be missed!
  • 8:15 – 8:55 pm check out and clean up

Why: Raise money for Refuge needs and other environmental education projects

Who: You and your friends. Please come to the Auction and buy something – we’ll have items in every price range.

  1. Make plans to drop off your contribution ahead of time. Coordinate with Anne: 952-936-0811(h), anne_hanley90@hotmail.com
  2. Please let Robin Kutz know if you can bring some snacks. Call her at 612-723-2632 or email robinkutz13@gmail.com
  3. If you need to bring your items on Thursday evening, please make every effort to deliver them between 5:30 and 6:15 pm so people can preview your items before the bidding starts.

To tempt you to attend, here are some Auction items we know about so far:

  • Vortex Raptor 8.5×32 Binoculars, retail value $99.99. Quality porro prisms; mid-size, wide angle design featuring waterproof, fog-proof construction and fully multi-coated optics -delivers a bright, crisp image with excellent color fidelity—even in low light conditions. This binocular can be easily adjusted to fit anyone.
  • Tripod for camera or scope
  • Monopod
  • Bird feeders: tube type, new
  • 2-volume boxed set of the 1966 Original Water Color Paintings of John James Audubon. It is in mint condition.
  • Bavarian Mints (Rita Baden)
  • Krumkake ($10 flat rate per dozen) (Cheri Fox)
  • Bread
  • Wine
  • Gift certificates
  • Ceramics
  • Ugandan basket (red, pine green, tan and brown with white accents)
  • Ugandan handcrafted 28” multi-strand beaded necklace (cinnamon and lime green colored)
  • Bird of your choice custom crossstitched on clothing or household item (sandhill crane, scissor tailed flycatcher, red bellied woodpecker, etc)
  • Bald Eagle plush toy 9” tall, Jaag brand

2017 Christmas Bird Count & Soup Supper: December 16-17

You are invited to join us for the 118th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). All levels of experience are welcome. Young birders with good eyes and ears are especially appreciated as an addition to a team of more experienced birders with good ID skills. Come help us count the birds!

Three counts are associated with MRVAC:

  • Bloomington CBC  – Saturday 12/16 – Contact: Bart Anderson 612-719- 6103, andersonbartlee@gmail.com.
  • Excelsior CBC  – Saturday 12/16 – Contacts: Howard Towle towle001@umn.edu.  *Call Howard no later than Dec 9 to participate
  • Cedar Creek Bog CBC  – Sunday 12/17 – Contact: Steve Weston at sweston2@comcast.net.

Potluck Soup Supper, Saturday, 12/16

On Saturday, 12/16, gather between 4:30 and 5 pm to help set up for a potluck soup supper  at the Diamond Lake Lutheran Church, 5760 Portland Ave 55417. Juice and coffee will be available from 5 to 5:30 and the meal begins at 5:30 pm. Please bring soup, veggies, fruit, bread or dessert. Please contact Robin at 612-723-2632 or robinkutz13@gmail.com if you have soupsupper questions. You are welcome at the supper whether you counted with the Bloomington CBC or not.

The Bloomington CBC  (Saturday, Dec. 16) is centered on the Black Dog Power Plant on the Minnesota River and includes parts of Bloomington, Burnsville, Richfield, Eagan, Apple Valley, and smaller parts of other cities. If you would like to help count in this area, contact Bart Anderson (see above).

The Excelsior CBC  (Saturday, Dec. 16) is centered on the intersection of Hwys 5 and 101 in Eden Prairie and includes parts of Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Excelsior, Chanhassen, Chaska and Shakopee. If you’d like to help count in the SW Metro area, please contact Howard Towle (see above) no later than December 9 as it is hard to rearrange the groups at the last minute.

Alternatively, you can participate in the Excelsior count by helping to cover a portion of Carver Park . Please contact Kirk Mona (the naturalist at the Lowry Nature Center) no later than December 9 if you would like to arrange to bird a specific portion of the park: Kirk Mona, Naturalist, Lowry Nature Center at 763-694-7650.

For the Cedar Creek Bog CBC  (Sunday 12/17) in northern Anoka and southern Isanti counties, please contact Steve Weston (see above). There are not expected to be many openings available to participate in this count.

2017 Holiday Auction: November 16

Please think about what donations you could collect for the fundraising auction Thursday November 16.

We could especially use a few larger items like a boat trip, use of a cabin, a homemade dinner or a behind the scenes tour.

Please email the committee with your ideas or let us know in advance, ideally by October 1 if possible, about your contributions so we can mention them in our publicity:

Wild Ones Native Plant Tour: August 13

Join the tour of five Minnesota River Valley yards with native landscaping; get some ideas for your own yard and see how various plants look ‘in person’.

An Aug 13 tour of native plant gardens in the Bloomington/Burnsville area includes gardens belonging to MRVAC members Becky Lystig, Liz Stanley, and Pat Stevesand. A 4th garden is a woodland reclaimed from buckthorn. All 4 gardens support bird habitat. The 5th location, adjacent to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, is a series of neighborhood curb cut rain gardens that mitigate water flowing into the Minnesota River.

For details go to prairieedge.wildones.org and click on Summer Tours at the top of the page. Then scroll to the bottom to Download the tour brochure. The tour is a fundraiser for the Prairie Edge chapter of Wild Ones.

Salt Lake Weekend Birding Recap

By Ken Larson – – PrairieMarshFarm@Comcast.net 

On April 29 over 100 birders from around the state searched the lakes, wetlands, woods and prairies of Lac Qui Parle, Big Stone and Yellow Medicine counties, finding 147 species of birds. Cold wet weather 2 days before and the later date for the weekend resulted in a good variety of waterfowl, raptors, shorebirds, warblers and sparrows.

Some of the best birds of the weekend were the Black-necked Stilt at Lone Tree Lake and a Prairie Falcon in southwestern Lac Qui Parle County, both reported by Jason Frank. Scott and Marilyn Scott spotted a Golden Eagle near Big Stone Lake and three miles northwest of Madison, Rebecca Flood was the first to spot a large flock of over 648 American Golden Plovers. Nearby at Madrena WMA, three White-faced Ibis, 123 American White Pelicans and one Western Grebe were spotted. Two Ferruginous Hawks were seen as well as numerous Swainson’s Hawks. Altogether 23 shorebird, 15 sparrow and 5 warbler species were counted.

All the birders involved extend thanks to the City of Marietta and the American Legion Womens Auxilary for breakfast and lunch and to the City of Madison and the Sons of Norway for dinner. Anyone wishing a complete list can email me directly at PrairieMarshFarm@comcast.net or find it on the MOU web site: http://moumn.org/saltlake/.

Citizen Science Opportunity: Phenology & Changing Seasonal Patterns

The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge has recently mapped out a series of observation points to collect data on the effects of seasonal change for several plant and animal species. These observation points are connected in a series of three “phenology trails” along the refuge. These observations provide important information to scientists in the National Phenology Network, along with our own biologists, as they seek to better understand how species are effected by changing seasonal patterns.

Their research depends on people like you, the citizen scientists, to help collect invaluable field data all across the nation. The data collection is done through a citizen science initiative known as “Nature’s Notebook”, which utilizes a user-friendly website and mobile application to aid in simple and accurate data collection.

  • If you are interested in joining this campaign, please consider attending an upcoming (as yet unscheduled) workshop, where you will learn about the importance of phenology and how to use Nature’s Notebook to collect data, along with finding opportunities to get involved.

For more information please contact Cortney Solum at cortney_solum@fws.gov