Member Stories

“What are you guys doing out here?”

I’ve fielded this question a time or two while out in the field. It typically comes from an innocently curious passerby, but occasionally it’ll show up decorated with less-than-appropriate verbiage. In either case, it’s certainly an inquiry within reason and I’ve become fond of the opportunities that follow. Read More

October reflections

October already! For the Ottertail crew, this means hot chocolate, long johns, and an end to the camping season. One thing I really enjoy about staying in cabins and roadside motels is the chance for after-work bonding with the two other women on my crew, Emily Stursma and Emily “Ninja” Braker. (That’s right, Ninja! I mean, we can’t have two Emilies on the crew.) If nights with the whole crew are all serious strategizing at Dungeons and Dragons and hitting the sack early in our separate tents, then nights with just us ladies are all giggling over the day’s foibles and staying up later than necessary noshing on popcorn and chocolate. Read More

Working with water trails

Earlier this year in mid-June, half of the North Woods crew—myself, Will, and Nate—helped the Water Trails crew for a week in clearing a portion of the Mississippi River near Bemidji of fallen trees. South of Lake Irving, a stretch of river about three miles long running through the woods was unnavigable.After unloading a jon boat from a trailer at an access point on the north side of Lake Irving, we packed in our gear: chainsaws, gasoline, bar and chain oil—a biodegradable type for use in water—hand saws, loppers, helmets, chaps, a saw box with tools for maintenance and repair, and our lunches. We followed the Water Trails crew across the lake into a marshy area where the river began. The forest around us soon became thick, and soon we spotted the first tree lying across the river. We agreed with the Water Trails crew to observe them working on a tree to learn, then we would go down the river and work ahead of them, after they would leap-frog ahead of us. Read More

Installation Time!

For the better part of my service term I worked on facilitating two solar furnace installations through my host organization, HACAP. I have sifted through their weatherization clients, completed outreach through energy conservation classes for those receiving energy assistance, and identified three homes for a system! With some luck, my team should be mounting solar panels on walls by early November. This is what I have been waiting for! Read More

Catching up with the Minneapolis youth crews

Our youth crews are working to cut the seed heads off the burdock throughout this area to help prevent further spread of burdock and clearing vines from the area. Our youth crews discovered exactly why burdock is harmful to the environment when we found a dead Song Sparrow trapped in some of the burs.  Even though it might not be a necessarily fun project for some of our youth, seeing that sparrow made them more willing to continue because they all agreed they didn’t want to see any more birds harmed.  As an adult crew, we have been steadily clearing the buckthorn over the last few weeks, prepping the area for a Make a Difference Day volunteer project at the end of this month.  Read More

So other oaks may live

Most people these days have heard of Dutch elm disease or of the emerald ash borer infecting and killing numerous elm and ash trees. These trees are not alone; oak trees have their own disease to which they are all susceptible simply called “oak wilt.” Oak wilt is a very aggressive fungal disease that can kill an oak within two or three months of infection. It can be spread by beetles that carry the fungus to the wounds of healthy trees or, most commonly, through root grafts. Read More