Springing into nature

NatureCenter1

As winter doggedly gives way to spring and people begin getting out more, all eyes turn to the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center and it’s variety of events scattered throughout the warmer months.

Year after year, the Nature Center brings in top-notch entertainment to lure more people to the popular outdoors destination. It’s entertainment that brings people together for not just music and art, but nature as well.

“I think to have the ability to provide that type of diversity in our programming really is a great opportunity for the community to get involved,” said Nature Center Executive Director Larry Dolphin. “Some of the knowledge, natural diversity, experience, music and art that’s related to that really connects people to the outdoors.”

Many familiar faces fill up the spring and summer schedule, with newer faces sprinkled in. It’s all part of the interconnected spirit of the Nature Center.

But it’s also made successful by the artists themselves.

“One thing most everybody we bring in has is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for what they do,” Dolphin said. “That’s contagious and has an impact on those people who attend these events.”

Names like David Stokes, Tom Pease and local wildlife photographer John Duren are popular returnees who bring back people time and time again. It’s a simple sign of how well it all works.

“Part of the reason they are coming back is the community keeps coming back to see them,” Dolphin said. “If we had poor attendance, we probably wouldn’t bring them back. These are well attended events, and you can see enthusiasm in the families and all those that attend the programming.”

New this year is the three-day water festival themed, “Clean Water: We All Live Downstream.”

The event has a simple message: Opening people’s eyes to the importance of clean water by touching on things like field drainage and protecting sediment along riverbanks.

“The event is about having fun and education, but there is the pervading idea that surrounds the whole event that we need to slow the water down and keep the soil where it is,” Dolphin said.

And all of this is made possible through people that care about the quality programming that comes into the Nature Center.

“There is more [this year] than ever before and the Friends of the Nature Center is the reason why we have that,” Dolphin said. “Many of these events are free and we want to keep it that way. The Friends definitely support that. The Friends is the group that has allowed us to expand bring in significant presentations.”

2014 Free Events

April

Carrol Henderson

Carrol Henderson

15 Carrol Henderson: Bird Study in Cuba. Wildlife biologist and author, Carrol Henderson will talk about a trip he and his wife, Ethelle, took in April of 2013 to Cuba for a bird study. 7 p.m. RSVP by April 14

 22 Earth Day and new interpretative Center Fundraiser Celebration: Event will feature Douglas Wood with the Wild Spirit Band. This will be a kickoff event for the fundraising drive for the new interpretative center. 7 p.m., Ruby Rupner Auditorium. RSVP by April 21.

 May

Sammie Peterson

Sammie Peterson

18 May Mushroom Madness. New Jay C. Hormel Nature Center intern Sammie Peterson, a certified edible mushroom identification expert, will take participants through a mushroom educational experience, followed by — weather permitting — a tour of the nature center looking for mushrooms. 1 to 3 p.m. Peregistration is required. Call 507-437-7519 or email info@hormelnaturecenter.org to sign up.

8, 13, 15 and 20: Spring bird watching: Each day will feature an early morning sojourn through the Nature Center, looking for and identifying birds. Participants will meet in the Nature Center parking lot. This event is co-sponsored by Austin Audubon. 6:30 a.m.

 June

David Stokes

David Stokes

19 David Stokes: A familiar face to the Nature Center, David Stokes uses song and audience participation to teach about the world of nature. 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Summer Senior Special. 1:30 p.m. Family and Children’s Program, Ruby Rupner Auditorium. Free, RSVP by June 18.

 26 National Eagle Center: A National Eagle Center naturalist interpreter will be on hand, featuring a live eagle ambassador. 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Summer Senior Special, 1:30 p.m. Family and Children’s Program, Ruby Rupner Auditorium. RSVP by June 24

July

10 Kevin Strauss. Author and storyteller Kevin Strauss will present two shows. A morning show for seniors will use history, folklore and tall tales to show off Minnesota’s wild side. An afternoon

Ann Zimmerman

Ann Zimmerman

show will have Strauss telling folktales and science stories about Minnesota animals. 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Summer Senior Special, 1:30 p.m. Family and Children’s Program, Ruby Rupner Auditorium. RSVP by July 9.=

17 Ann Zimmerman: Musician Ann Zimmerman returns to the Nature Center as part of the new water festival, “Clean Water: We All Live Downstream.” 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Summer Senior Special, 1:30 p.m. Family and Children’s Program, 7 p.m. Ruby Rupner Auditorium. RSVP by July 16

18 Kenny Salwey: This is another presentation through the water festival. Author, river guide and veteran woodsman Kenny Salwey will show the Emmy award-winning BBC film, “Mississippi: Tales of the Last River Rat.” The movie celebrates Salwey’s life as a river guide and outdoorsman. 7 p.m., Ruby Rupner Auditorium. RSVP by July 17.

19 Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium. On the third day of the water festival, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium will present “What’s for Lunch?” Visitors will learn about animals eat and what eats them.

24 Kurt Mead. Award-winning author Kurt Mead, who wrote “Dragonflies of the North Woods,” will give a presentation on mosquito hawks (dragonflies). 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Summer Senior Special, 1:30 p.m. Family and Children’s Program, Ruby Rupner Auditorium. RSVP by July 24

August

Tom Pease

Tom Pease

2 Pat and Donna Surface with Boundary Water Boys and Marina Whight. A live performance featuring songs of the 1960s and 1970s, complete with on-stage sign language. 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Summer Senior Special, 1:30 p.m. Family and Children’s Program, 7 p.m. evening. Ruby Rupner Auditorium. A freewill offering of Alzheimer’s research will be accepted during these concerts in memory of Don Deines. RSVP by Aug. 1.

 14 Ken Lonnquist: Musician Ken Lonnquist brings his unique musical take on the natural world to the Nature Center. 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Summer Senior Special, 1:30 p.m. Family and Children’s Program, 7 p.m. evening. Ruby Rupner Auditorium. RSVP by Aug. 13.

21 John Duren. John Duren, a local wildlife photographer, will give two presentations. The first will center around the importance of wetland ecosystems, while the second will a have him talking about some of his favorite wildlife photographs. 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Summer Senior Special, 1:30 p.m. Family and Children’s Program, Ruby Rupner Auditorium. RSVP by Aug. 20.

 28 Tom Pease. Pease brings back his family-oriented shows filled with you song and humor. 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Summer Senior Special, 1:30 p.m. Family and Children’s Program, Ruby Rupner Auditorium. RSVP by Aug. 27.

*For more information and more events offered at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, go to www.hormelnaturecenter.org or call 507-437-7519.

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