Minnesota Master Naturalist

Course Registration

PP - Prairies and Potholes of West Central Minnesota

Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, 12718 10th St. NE, Spicer website

12718 10th St. NE
Spicer, MN 56288

Come join us for a Prairies and Potholes course in the Prairie Potholes region along the Glacial Ridge. In this weeklong course we will explore the unique features of our region. Our goal is to better understand how this landscape was formed and discover more about the plants, animals and humans that call this biome their home now and in the past.

You will experience a mix of classroom work, but mostly expect outdoor adventures this week. Plans for the week include a paddle to explore the Middle Fork of the Crow River in a voyageur canoe, a chance to kayak, (or wade) into wetlands to collect macroinvertebrates for observation, a trip to view the expanse of the Ordway Prairie with team members working to keep the prairie healthy, and a visit to Sibley State Park. During class each participant will complete a team capstone project connecting you to volunteer opportunities at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center and other organizations. Wednesday evening we will share a meal together to allow for more time for teams to work together.

Please inform instructors before the class begins of any accessibility or mobility needs, especially regarding outdoor activities.

Housing availability:
You can arrange housing with Green Lake Lutheran Ministries at the Green Lake facility or Shores of Andrew, camp at Sibley State Park, book a room at one of the local hotels in New London or Spicer, or contact PWELC to see if there is onsite camping available.

The course cost is $295 and includes course manuals and supplies.

If the course cost is a hardship, please fill out the scholarship application. After the scholarship is fully processed, you will receive a code to be entered in the on-line registration process. Please wait until you receive that code to complete registration.

Course Dates:

Meeting from 8:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. on:

Instructor Information

Mary Newstrom

Mary Newstrom loves the outdoors and has been a Minnesota Master Naturalist since 2008. She has a wide variety of interests and takes pride in her work with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of MN. Becoming certified in songbird rehabilitation, she specialized in rehabbing Goldfinch. Mary’s dedication was shown by accumulating 2,045 volunteer hours between 2012 and 2014. Moving on to volunteer with Bumble Bee identification, MN Land Trust, and other organizations, she tries to spend as much time outside as possible.

Mary is a wellness coach that helps people connect to the spiritual side of nature. She has extensive experience leading groups and working one-on-one with adult learners. Her formal training includes a Ph.D. in Psychology plus many additional hours of Naturalist training.

Mary’s family history is rooted in New London, Spicer, and Belgrade. Her Mother and Father come from the area, and her extended family are active around town. She loves to camp, hike, and explore new places.

Laura Molenaar

Laura Molenaar, a retired teacher from New London/Spicer Schools, with a MS in Educational Leadership. She is always open to opportunities to learn, hang out with children, and share her passion for the natural world. Working with students and teachers she has led the restoration of three prairie areas to create outdoor classroom spaces on the NLS campus. These outdoor classrooms provided the opportunities for students to participate in community science research. This work led to Laura receiving The Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, PAEMST. She has worked with the Monarch Lab at the University of Minnesota and is currently an education specialist with Monarch Joint Venture, MJV.
This quote from Also Leopold describes how she approaches life; “...The most fun lies in seeing and studying the unknown.” Laura has 3 grown children and lives in New London, MN with her husband Jim, golden retriever Addy and geriatric cat Latte. When she’s not working you will find her outside; biking, camping, or digging in the soil, ...

Jake Schwinghammer

Kory Klebe

I coordinate the Environmental Education and Shooting Sports programs at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center. I started my environmental education career in 1998 and have worked programs in New Jersey, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Northern Ireland before coming to PWELC in 2010.

If it is:
Catching macro invertebrates with school kids on the wetland walkway.
Tracking animals through the prairies with boy scouts.
Working the sporting clay range.
Captaining our 34 foot Canoe.
I enjoy getting people outdoors to learn about the world they live in.

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