Steve Gardiner taught high school English and journalism for 38 years in Montana and Wyoming. He started working at the Republican Eagle in May 2018. He focuses on features and outdoor stories.
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Housed in a simple brick building in downtown Houston, Minn., the International Owl Center is filled with information about and enthusiasm for owls. Executive Director Karla Bloem wears a shirt that says, "Making the world a better place for owls." She works hard to support that mission. "Humans are the biggest problem for owls," Bloem said. "Not necessarily directly killing them, but inadvertently killing them." She explained that when humans use poisons for rodent control, the rodents eat the poisons, then the owls eat the rodents.
When Gov. Tim Walz appointed Mary Cathryn Ricker as the Minnesota commissioner of education, he knew her background and passion would make her the right person for the job. The Minnesota Senate agreed and confirmed her.
A disease known as white nose syndrome - WNS - is proving deadly to Minnesota's four species of cave bats. The disease is caused by a fungus called pseudogymnoascus destructans, and infected bats often have a white fungus growing on their wings and muzzle which gives the disease its name. "White nose syndrome affects bats because of their unique lifestyle," said Melissa Boman of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "It is caused by a fungus that originated in Europe."
While the jewel of Nugget Lake County Park is the 116-acre lake itself, a series of trails, a playground, a picnic shelter, a fishing pier, a campground, and five cabins provide plenty of activities for visitors of all ages. Rental canoes and kayaks allow boaters to paddle down a brief section of Plum Creek to the point it opens up onto Nugget Lake, an ideal paddling start and finish.
Atop a small hill in a cornfield just off Highway 50 between Farmington and Hampton, a golden temple dominates the skyline. It is Watt Munisotaram, a Cambodian Buddhist temple that supports a Theravada Buddhist community of about 9,000 Cambodians living in Minnesota. The main structure was built in 2002 to 2007, but scaffolding and piles of materials around the grounds indicate that Watt Munisotaram is a work in progress.
The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson serves as a focal point for all forms of creative work in the St. Croix valley. "We are home to a community theater and a children's theater," said John Potter, executive director. "The children's theater features area students in four productions a year."
For families that enjoy seeing the Minnesota State Parks, like to get outdoors, and want to mix a bit of technology into their adventures, the geocaching program called The Aquatic Quest might be a great activity. "It has been a very popular program," said Amy Barrett, information officer with the Parks and Trails Division. "This is a three-year program, and what people need to do to finish is find the geocache hidden at every state park and some of the state trails."
At a glance, the metal framework on the south side of the E.H. Kleinpell Fine Arts Building on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls appears to be a nice, symmetrical sculpture. It is, but it is also a very precise, vertical sundial.
A recent report based on several national surveys says that leisure reading is at an all-time low among Americans. While that may be the national trend, area librarians said the same may not be the case for readers in the RiverTown Multimedia area. The Washington Post article, by Christopher Ingraham, stated that the number of Americans who read for pleasure on any particular day has decreased 30 percent since 2004.
Anyone who has ever driven past a construction site and imagined jumping in the cab of a bulldozer or excavator and moving piles of dirt around can now live out that dream at Extreme Sandbox in Hastings. "This is something that a lot of people have on their bucket list," said Jacob Perkins, lead instructor. "You can't just go to an equipment rental business and rent a 26-ton bulldozer, but you can come here and drive one for an hour or two."