Online classes for gardeners and nature enthusiasts

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.

From And the People Stayed Home by Kitty O’Meara

Now is the time of deep midwinter. The holiday lights have dimmed and the thrill of fresh snow has faded. Though we’ve entered a new year, many of us remain in a state of quiet waiting – waiting to receive a vaccine, to send children back to school, to gather again with friends and family, for the snow to melt, and for spring to bloom again.

In the bleak midwinter…

During this season of waiting, local conservation groups are offering a variety of online classes for gardeners and nature enthusiasts. Explore new interests, build skills, begin planning for a summer landscaping project at your home, or simply enjoy a few hours of escape from the doldrums of winter.

Gardening: Enjoy a series of free webinars from Chisago County Master Gardeners on Seed Starting (Jan. 26), Attracting Butterflies (Feb. 9), Designing a Backyard Ecosystem (Feb. 16), and Growing Raspberries and Blackberries (Feb. 23). All workshops are from 7-8:30pm. Register online.

Grasshopper on echinacea

Wolves and wetlands: Tue, Jan. 26, 5-6pm – By studying wolf-beaver interactions in northern Minnesota, Tom Gable and the Voyageurs Wolf Project have demonstrated how wolves, by preying on beavers, alter wetland creation, and in turn, impact streams and rivers. Learn more about this research during a short 1-hr webinar from the Minnesota Master Naturalist program. $15/20 for members/non-members. Register online.

Winter Tree ID: Sat., Jan. 30, 10-11am. $10. Also offered by Minnesota Master Naturalists: registration

A stand of pines at Pine Point Regional Park

The Prairie Enthusiasts Online Conference: Feb. 23-27 – Enjoy a variety of presentations on prairie ecology, restoration, and management. In addition to a keynote presentation and several technical presentations, the conference also includes workshops on nature drawing (Carolyn Byers) and nature photography (Chris Helzer) on Friday, Feb. 26, as well as a virtual happy hour, during which conference participants can meet new people and enjoy conversation with fellow conservationists. Cost is $60 for TPE members, $95 for non-members, and $25 for students. To register:

Prairie in bloom at Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Best Practices for Pollinators Summit: March 2-4 – This conference, offered by the Pollinator Friendly Alliance, includes three days of presentations from 9am-2pm for only $24. Watch them all, or choose a few that cover topics of most interest to you. Learn which native flowers, shrubs and trees are best for pollinators (Heather Holm); get advice on chemical-free buckthorn control (Bre Bauerly); learn how to build healthy soil (Eric Lee-Mader and Dr. Ann Marie Journey); and hear from habitat restoration experts as they share best practices for prairie restoration and maintenance. To register:

Bee on aster at Carpenter Nature Center