May 24: Nature at Our Doorstep with Matt Schuth

Presented by Matt Schuth, MN Landscape Arboretum

Join us for Matt’s photos and stories. He has worked in various capacities at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum since 1982, managing maple syrup production, working on wetland projects with graduate students, helping to prepare and maintain research plots, setting up bluebird trails, wood duck houses, and osprey nests, and keeping track of bird, mammal, and butterfly sightings at the Arboretum.

He continues to write about the natural world for the Arboretum Magazine and to conduct nature walks and talks throughout the year. His book Nature at Our Doorstep was published in June 2017.

Thursday, May 24

  • 7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies
  • 7:30 pm: A brief MRVAC business meeting followed by the featured speaker.

Where: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington. Take Hwy 494 to 34th Ave. Go south to American Blvd; turn left and go 2 blocks. Center will be on your right. Enter through the door at the middle of the building.

Public Transit: Accessible by METRO Blue line (Hiawatha light rail). The Visitor Center is a couple of blocks east of the American Boulevard stop.


“East Side Takes Flight! The Minnesota Flyway as a Whole Family Experience”

MRVAC donated $3000, in addition to some support from MOU, for this project.

The East Side Neighborhood Services (ESNS) project journey began in mid-September with a family overnight field trip to the annual Hawk Ridge Festival in Duluth, Minnesota. Families of the Glendale Townhomes traveled to Hawk Ridge and participated in the free family activities which introduced them to bird watching and bird appreciation. They stayed overnight at the East Side Neighborhood Services campground, Camp Bovey, in Gordon, Wisconsin.

In addition, throughout the fall, there will be after school programs on dynamics of flight, wing technology, and the geographical relevance of the Minnesota River Valley through an education series that will involve 6-site visits by staff from Silverwood Park (Three Rivers Park District).

Youth will work on bird-related art projects, observe local bird wildlife within the Prospect Park and East River Parkway, and study bird artifacts with naturalist twice weekly for three weeks. They will participate in a field trip to Silverwood Park with activities facilitated by Silverwood Park Staff.

Meanwhile, in Northeast Minneapolis, the after-school program Mulberry Junction will construct a bird habitat viewing area outside the windows of the East Side Neighborhood Services Adult Day at Friendship Center, a program that provides daytime care and support for 20-25 seniors weekly.

On two separate weekends (October 7 and 14), families from the Luxton Learners and Mulberry Junction programs were invited to attend a family bird watching hike along the East Bank trail system near the Glendale Townhomes. Board members of the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Society (Monica Rauchwarter and Greg Burnes) will lead bird-watching hikes equipped with binoculars and appropriately translated bird-identification guides in Somali and Spanish so as to bridge any language barriers otherwise inhibiting immigrant families from fully benefiting from the experiences.

All three programs will culminate in a joint family night meal and bird appreciation festivity at Luxton Community Center on November 2. Families of students who attend the programs will be invited to share photos, students’ written stories, and art projects detailing their bird-related family and afterschool program projects.

Jean Emmons, the co-leader of the weekend, informed me that everyone who went was part of a multigenerational family: grandparents with grandkids, parents with children, blended families. Everyone was from an underserved population.

They spent two nights at a small camp, Bovey, in northern Wisconsin that Eastside Neighborhood Services has managed to maintain. None of the participants had ever canoed before or seen the star-filled night sky. None had ever been to Duluth, experienced hawk migration or seen Lake Superior. They hiked at Hawk Ridge, met banded hawks and received quality attention from staff on the Ridge. Sparky Stensaass met the families and donated materials to the ESNS program. One young lady spent hours learning about dragonflies.

The kids and their parents exulted in Lake Superior – some even swam in the lake! Everyone got ice cream on the ride home. As Jean said — “you get the full experience!”

People of color learn they aren’t permitted the same rights to nature white people take for granted. These people were able to experience nature, have adventures, meet and immerse themselves in Lake Superior, be turned on to birds and dragonflies and the night sky.

This grant definitely fulfills MRVAC’s mission in the most glorious way!

Matt Schaut


Dear Matt, Steve, Greg, and Monica-

The Luxton Takes Flight project is off to a strong start! We just completed our weekend family trip to Hawkridge and Camp Bovey, WI. Though I’ll be sending you a more detailed recap toward the end of the month, I was too excited to wait and wanted to drop a quick line of gratitude immediately!

In the last 16 years of working with youth and families, I’ve participated in very few events that have even come close to the fun and the beauty of this weekend. Thank you for giving our East Side community this special experience. I so appreciate the willingness of both your agencies to work together and each fund a portion of the same project — without your willingness to work together, we truly could not have made this happen.


James Taborda-Whitt, Youth Program Manager

East Side Neighborhood Services, 1700 2nd Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

Elect 2017-18 Board Members

Trumpeter Swan
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator), Tom Koerner, USFWS

Please join us at the meeting on Thursday May 25 to vote on the slate of nine candidates for the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter board of directors. At present, here’s the list, but there may be last minute changes:

  • President: Matthew Schaut
  • Vice President: Steve Weston
  • Treasurer: Bob Williams
  • Secretary:
  • Members at Large: Becky Lystig, Ken Oulman, Greg Burnes, Rick Magee, Monica Rauchwarter, Bob Janssen

John Rehbein passed away at 90

John passed away on Thursday, February 16, 2017. He was a founding member of MRVAC and 2006 Trumpeter Award winner.

For 20+ years he led the spring warbler field trip to Hok-Si-La and Frontenac. In addition, in 1969, he started the Bloomington Christmas Bird Count that MRVAC still supports.

Read John’s obituary here.

MRVAC Newsletter Distribution

TrumpeterMRVAC’s newsletter, The Trumpeter, is a valuable tool for communicating what is going on in the environmental community, great book reviews, updates on birding events and more.

However, the challenge is that printing the Trumpeter costs MRVAC close to $4,000 per year. That is a substantial part of our budget that could be invested in supporting youth programs, birding events, and more. Therefore, we are asking those who have access to the internet to go to our new website – – and download or read the Trumpeter on-line.

If you want an email reminder when the new Trumpeter has been posted on the web site, you can sign up on the Newsletter page.

If you are unable to get the Trumpeter on-line, you can opt-in and have a hard copy of the Trumpeter delivered to you. Please complete the card that came with the May/June Trumpeter and send it to us or bring it to the next refuge meeting. If we don’t hear from you, we will assume you will be enjoying the Trumpeter on-line.

March 23: Changing the Future for Endangered Species

Piping Plover. Matt Poole, courtesy USFWS

Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) is a global network of conservation professionals headquartered in Minnesota, dedicated to saving threatened species by increasing the effectiveness of conservation efforts worldwide.

Dr. Onnie Byers, Chair, IUCN SSC Conservation, will discuss mammals from the coastal scrublands of Tasmania, amphibians from a unique gorge in Tanzania, birds from the forests of Japan, and plants from the rocky caves of Bermuda –stories that illustrate ways in which our commitment to science, collaboration and neutral facilitation has helped improve the status of threatened species in the wild by helping the people already working to conserve a species come to agreement on what needs to be done to succeed.

Thursday, February 23

  • 7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies
  • 7:30 pm: A brief MRVAC business meeting followed by the featured speaker.

Where: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington. Take Hwy 494 to 34th Ave. Go south to American Blvd; turn left and go 2 blocks. Center will be on your right. Enter through the door at the middle of the building.

Public Transit: Accessible by METRO Blue line (Hiawatha light rail), The Visitor Center is a couple of blocks east of the American Boulevard stop.

Minnesota Water Action Day

Make Your Voice Heard on Water Action Day 

To Register (event is free):

Water Action Day is happening on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 and it will be a great opportunity for Audubon members to come to the Capitol for the day and participate in advocacy meetings, as well as a rally with the larger community interested in water issues. Many other Audubon members from around the state will be there and a host of other conservation advocates will also be in attendance.

There will be a training in the morning on how to effectively advocate for the water issues that birds and people face in Minnesota and a rally in the Rotunda at 1 pm. Throughout the day, there will be events to learn how to be civically engaged and also, what to expect in meetings with elected officials. Watch for updates and more information on Audubon Minnesota’s Facebook page and website.

If there are members that would be willing to travel to the state Capitol anytime this spring, Audubon Minnesota can help set up meetings with your legislators, attend the meetings with you, and help you through the entire process. This is an impactful way to voice your support for clean water and it can be fun, too! Please contact Molly Pederson if you are interested meeting with your legislator at the Capitol (

Salt Lake Birding Weekend: April 29

American Avocets, Lee Karney, courtesy USFWS

Sponsored by MOU and MRVAC 

If you’re dreaming about spring and wanting to find migrating shorebirds and waterfowl, why not join the 42nd annual Salt Lake Birding Weekend? On Saturday April 29, 2017, volunteers will guide birders around Salt Lake, Big Stone Refuge, the lakes, wetlands and native prairies in Lac Qui Parle, Yellow Medicine and Big Stone counties.

This event is free and open to all who are interested. No pre-registration is required.

Last year over 100 birders found 117 different species of birds with an additional one on Friday and eight on Sunday for a total of 126. Friday and Sunday birding is on your own. Contact Ken or stop by Prairie Marsh Farm for more information on local sites. Information and map at 

Last year with temperatures in the upper 70’s, high winds resulted in low numbers of shorebirds. The best birds found on Saturday were two American Avocets, one White-faced Ibis and one Willet at Meidd Lake, a Great-tailed Grackle, early Eastern Whip-poor-will and Chimney Swift, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Pileated Woodpecker (hard to find out west) and a Ferruginous Hawk. Lincoln’s Sparrow, Harris’s Sparrow and a single late Pine Siskin were found at Prairie Marsh Farm, the latter being unique in my records for the Salt Lake Bird count. Later as the winds died down we found a flock of 300 shorebirds at Salt Lake including Pectoral and Least Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher and Franklin’s Gull.

On Saturday April 29 at 7 a.m. meet at the Marietta American Legion, located one block west of the intersection of County Road 7 and State Highway 40, 11 miles west of Madison. Coffee, sweet rolls, juice and milk will be available for purchase. Guided car caravans will leave between 7 and 8 am. At noon stop back at the Legion for barbecue sandwiches (available at a modest cost), compare notes and continue afternoon birding. A Saturday chicken dinner for $10, will be served at 7:30 pm at the Sons of Norway Hall on Highway 75 in Madison. Reservations are necessary for dinner; please contact Julie Claflin by email at . After dinner there will be a short program and then the species count for the day will be recorded.

Local lodging is available:

  • Lou’s Lodge in Madison: 320-598-7518
  • Vali Vu Motel in Ortonville: 320-839-2558
  • Prairie Waters Inn in Appleton: 320-289-2500
  • Country Inn by Carlson in Montevideo: 320-269-8000

Free camping is available at Prairie Marsh Farm, 1770 151st Ave, Marietta, located 7 miles west of US 75 and 1.5 miles south of 212. Contact Ken Larson for more information or to reserve a camping site – home (Minnetonka) 952-595-9265, cell 612-210-8486 or email to