Nature Oasis; Nature center offers a variety of activities throughout the fall and winter months

Published 6:30 am Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center still serves as your source for outdoors activities in Austin, even when the leaves come off the trees and the snow falls.

Trails are cultivated throughout the winter for both cross country skiing and snow-shoeing.

Programming is still being worked on so be sure to visit them at or call 1-507-437-7519 for more information as it becomes available. The nature center is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

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16th Annual Thanksgiving Feast Fundraiser

5-9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27

• Holiday Inn Conference Center

Join the Friends of the Hormel Nature Center for social hour, a delicious meal, music and entertainment, raffles and games, and a silent and live auction! Tickets are $40. Friends of the Hormel Nature Center will receive a $5 coupon at the Feast to use towards raffles, games, or auction items. For ticket reservations, please call 507-433-6928, or visit to purchase tickets online! All proceeds go to the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center Operations Fund, which supports interns, staffing, and programs throughout the year.

Find this story and more in Southern Exposure, available now.

Astronomical Viewing: Sola Fide Observatory

8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3

Come out and discover fascinating facts about the night sky during our free observatory open house hours! Sola Fide Observatory is open to the public on specified Saturdays throughout the year (dependent on clear skies). On these select evenings, Nature Center staff and volunteers are available to assist the public in viewing the night sky.

Kirk Payne: “Falconry—Hunting the Ancient Way”

7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 20

Falconry, the sport of hunting wild game with a bird of prey, may be the oldest human-animal partnership around. How can you capture a wild hawk and, within a month, begin hunting with her? Kirk Payne, a Rochester area science teacher/naturalist and a licensed falconer, will share an overview of this ancient sport, plus stories from his experiences in the field. (And, if his early fall trapping season was successful, Kirk will be joined by a young Red-tailed hawk in training!) Cosponsored with Austin Audubon.

Christmas Crafts class

Session 1: 6-9 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 29

Session 2: 8:30-11:30 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 1

Session 3: 1:30-4:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1

Join us as we begin preparing for the Christmas holiday season with the traditional crafts of wreath making and beeswax candle dipping! Fee is $35 (includes materials and refreshments). For ages 12 and over. Space is limited and refunds will not be offered.

Christmas in the City in the East

4-7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 4

Come and enjoy Christmas at the Nature Center! Make a pine cone birdseed tree ornament, paint holiday “nature rocks,” take photos with Santa Claus by the fireplace, and enjoy cookies and hot refreshments provided by the Friends of the Nature Center.

The Association Jazz Combo

7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19

Ruby Rupner Auditorium. Enjoy an evening of holiday and nature-themed jazz featuring former Nature Center summer intern, Jacob Burkhart!

Cross Country Ski Lessons

8:30-11:30 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 19

Classical ski lessons will include instructions for beginners as well as tips for intermediate skiers. Lesson cost is $6.00 for adults and $1.00 for children (accompanied by an adult), which includes poles, boots, & skis. Meet at the Interpretive Center. Preregistration is required (507-437-7519,

Friends of the Nature Center Annual Meeting and Chili Feed

12:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 19

Ruby Rupner Auditorium. Please join us for a chili luncheon, a review of our 2018 accomplishments, and a preview of what’s ahead for the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center! The luncheon and program are free and open to the public, but RSVP is required by Wednesday, Jan. 16 (507-437-7519,

The Glittering Heavens

We may be getting into the colder parts of the year, but there are still dates available to acquaint yourselves with the nightly splendor of the stars and planets.

Austin’s own Sola Fide Observatory, and its 16-inch reflecting telescope, will have the last viewing this fall, on November 3rd at 8 p.m..

Located south of Austin, this telescope is a gem for viewing the heavens with Jay C. Hormel Nature Center staff and volunteers on hand to answer questions.

But be warned, all of the night’s viewings are dependent on clear skies so be sure to check the weather ahead of time.

For more information and future dates, contact the nature center at 1-507-437-7519.

How to get there

From Interstate 90, take Highway 218 south for two and a half miles. Turn right on County Road 28 and drive one mile until you reach a stop sign.

Turn left onto County Road 29 and drive one and a half miles. Turn right onto 180th Street and drive a quarter mile to where the observatory driveway will on the right.