Public kickoff for We Are Water MN locally is Saturday

Published 6:06 am Friday, April 26, 2019

Provided by the CRWD

After two years of planning, the Cedar River Watershed and Austin community are ready to host the We Are Water MN statewide traveling exhibit for the next seven weeks.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, a public kickoff will open the interactive, all-ages exhibit to the public at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center in Austin, 1304 21st St. N.E.

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An opening ceremony at 10 a.m. will feature local state Sen. Dan Sparks and Rep. Jeanne Poppe, who have led numerous water-related legislation for the Cedar River Watershed, along with officials from state agencies. Then the exhibit will be opened to the public.

Half of the classroom space in the new visitors center will house most of the We Are Water MN exhibit pieces, including stations for listening to local people tell different water stories and for trying to stay profitable as you take the “Minnesota Farm Challenge.”

Other features will be in the lobby area, including 27-foot-tall banner showing the depths of the Cedar River during major floods here.

The We Are Water MN traveling exhibit will be stopping in Austin at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center starting on Saturday, April 27. Photo provided

This public kickoff is one of four major events planned by the local committee. The others included offering a water bar/water booth at the annual Taste of Nations earlier in the month on April 6; offering a Canoemobile Community Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 18 at Austin Mill Pond; and putting on the nature center’s annual water festival. Many other events are planned through June.

Free hot dogs donated by Hormel Foods and cookies from SuperFresh Produce will be served at the kickoff along with water next to the Austin Utilities’ displays showing how Austin gets its drinking water.

Various activities will be offered during the kickoff, including a stream table for hands-on learning rom the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; the CRWD’s interactive watershed demonstration table; and a “Monet Water Lilies” art project station using watercolor paint and pastels by Austin Area Arts instructor Katie Stromlund.

Three, mini-presentations (about 20 minutes) also will be given in the nature center’s conference room:

• 11 a.m. “Your Austin Water Supply and How to Conserve and Save Water” by Kelly Lady of Austin Utilities

• 11:30 a.m. “Checking the Water Quality of Our Streams” by CRWD watershed technician James Fett, who then will lead an interactive demonstration on sampling water from Dobbins Creek at the nearby 21st St NE bridge.

• 12:30 p.m. “Our Local Water Story” by CRWD outreach coordinator Tim Ruzek.

“Our planning committee has worked hard to make our hosting of We Are Water MN very educational, fun and interactive for the public,” said Tim Ruzek, outreach coordinator for Cedar River Watershed District, which is leading the local project. “We hope everyone takes time to not only check out the exhibit while it’s here but also to share their own water story.”

We Are Water MN’s 2018-2019 traveling exhibit will be free to the public with viewing hours following the nature center’s regular hours for its visitors center: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

CRWD is co-hosting the exhibit with the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, with partnering agencies including Mower County Historical Society, Hormel Foods Corp., Austin Utilities, Discover Austin and Riverland Community College.

We Are Water MN is a traveling exhibit focused on the relationships between people and water — how water connects story, history, faith, ethics, the arts and science. It is a partnership of the Humanities Center, MPCA, Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A full event schedule for We Are Water MN in the Cedar River Watershed is available on the CRWD website:

More information about We Are Water MN and host site community events can be found at

Connected to water: Read more about Austin’s rich history of water