Rob Schulz, Audubon MN executive director and conservation team leader.
Belwin, Bison, and Birds.
Lynette Anderson, Interpretive Naturalist and Restoration Assistant at Belwin Conservancy, will present “Belwin, Bison, and Birds.” She will talk about the wide variety of habitats at Belwin, most notably prairie and oak savanna, and about the introduction of a bison herd onto their land. Belwin was founded in 1971 and launched Belwin Outdoor Science, a collaboration with Saint Paul Public Schools. Belwin has served more than 400,000 students since then and continues to serve over 10,000 a year, currently through virtual field trips.
Restoring Prairie and Savanna Habitat in Western Wisconsin
Marcie and Mike O’Connor will present “Prairie Haven – Prairie and Savanna Restoration on an Old Wisconsin Farm. The O’Connors bought the farm in 2000 and decided to restore the land back to the way it was before it was farmed. Marcie will talk about the restoration and Mike will talk about his project of collecting recordings of birds and animals.
Phil Hartley, photographer and naturalist, will present “Hidden Gems of the North Shore.” Phil will use photography to highlight nearly two dozen great birding spots along the North Shore that are somewhat off the beaten path and used more by locals than tourists.
“For Love of a River: The Minnesota” is a holistic biography of our state’s namesake river written by Darby Nelson with assistance from his wife, Geri, and editor John Hickman. Published in 2019, it was a finalist for the Midwest Book Publishers Award in the Nature category. Darby and Geri paddled the Minnesota River all the way from its source near the South Dakota border to its confluence with the Mississippi in St. Paul. Along the way, they examined the unique geological history of the river basin, admired the diverse flora and fauna, explored some of the basin’s many lakes, learned about the Dakota-US War and subsequent transformation of the landscape to agriculture, and encountered numerous people who share Darby’s passion for this special place and his dedication to addressing the river’s pollution problems. The program will feature photographs from Darby and Geri’s paddling adventures and readings from the book, which is available on Amazon in soft cover and e-book formats. For more information, see www.darbynelson.com.
Darby Nelson fell in love with the Minnesota River as a boy growing up in the river town of Morton. He is an aquatic ecologist and biology professor emeritus at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Darby has been a tireless advocate for the environment, serving on boards for Conservation Minnesota, the Freshwater Society, and the Nature Conservancy, and he was a charter member of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. He has received the Sigurd Olson Award from the Izaak Walton League, Environmentalist of the Year from the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, Willard Munger Award from the Minnesota DFL, Steve Chapman Environment Award from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and several teaching awards. Geri Nelson has a BS in biology and secondary education from the University of Minnesota and an MS in gifted and talented education from St Thomas. She taught physical science for 25 years in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, coaching science fair students and advising National Honor Society and the Girls’ Science and Math Retreat. She is proud to be Darby’s typist, first reader, events coordinator and, now that Darby is experiencing the effects of dementia, his spokesperson. John Hickman assisted in the writing of For Love of a River: The Minnesota. John is a writer and documentary film producer and a longtime advocate for the Minnesota River. From 1992–94, he served on Governor Arne Carlson’s Minnesota River Citizens’ Advisory Committee and wrote the recommendations for the committee’s influential final report, Working Together: A Plan to Restore the Minnesota River. In 2011, he was executive producer of the film River Revival: Working Together to Save the Minnesota River, which premiered in prime time on the Twin Cities’ NBC affiliate.