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Here’s What I’m Working on Right Now

by David Minor, Communications Outreach Specialist/ AmeriCorps Member with MN DNR Scientific and Natural Areas through Conservation Corps’ Individual Placement program

I feel like this blog post needs to talk about COVID-19, at least a little bit. It’s affecting everyone’s lives right now. All my cohort in the Individual Placement program at Conservation Corps MN & IA have been telecommuting, working on projects from home, and all fieldwork was unfortunately suspended for a while. It’s a weird, uncertain time right now. I’ve been trying to maintain a sense of normalcy the best I can (what is normal right now anyway?). So maybe instead of talking about the current global pandemic, I’ll talk about some of the projects I’ve been working on! Thankfully, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to continue working on these projects from home. I hope others will be able to return to their service soon.

I have been able to continue working on and developing many projects. One major project is the Minnesota Prairie Landowner Network. I am working with Scientific and Natural Areas staff at the Department of Natural Resources, as well as partners with other organizations, to help start this network to connect prairie landowners with each other and with professionals. First, we are planning on launching a Facebook group so prairie landowners can connect and discuss. After we launch the Facebook group, we will begin working on developing other communication methods to reach the landowners who do not use the internet or Facebook. We are planning on starting a newsletter that landowners can subscribe to, both online and through traditional mail, so we can reach as many prairie landowners as possible. The hope is that the network begins to take off and become self-sufficient.

Another project that I am continuing to work on is a communications piece about the benefits of prescribed burning on Scientific and Natural Areas. It began as a photo piece for the Scientific and Natural Areas Facebook page last year, that would show the before, during, and after of a prescribed burn. However, it has turned into a lot more than that. I continued to return to the sites for months afterward, capturing the same areas throughout the year. I have already put together a few Facebook posts using the photos I captured. I am working on some text to put on the Scientific and Natural Areas website, along with the photos slideshows. I am also putting together a video about prescribed fire on Scientific and Natural Areas, which will go on the website as well as Facebook.

I have also been spending time on a short video project that introduces the Scientific and Natural Areas Program, talks about the ways it helps protect Minnesota’s biodiversity, and explains what an SNA is. Do you know? I’m really excited about this project. I just had a call with someone who is reading a script I wrote for a video, which is a first for me.

Besides that, I have been doing the regular, ongoing projects of writing content for and maintaining the Scientific and Natural Areas Facebook page, producing short “virtual hike” videos of SNAs (using footage I got pre-COVID), working on the SNA newsletter – Nature Notes, and the various other small projects that come up regularly.

Going into a second year with the Conservation Corps feels good. I was able to hit the ground running and dive in right away based on the projects and ideas of last year. I am thankful I get to continue working on these projects during such uncertain times, and I look forward to returning to normal. Stay safe everyone.

Just before the world seemed to turn upside down. I went on a staff retreat with the DNR (I’m in the green hat with sunglasses) and met all the Scientific and Natural Areas staff for the first time. The SNA Program already does a lot of collaboration online due to the statewide structure of the Program. So, I only ever get to talk to them online anyway. Isn’t it ironic? Photo by Kelly Randall / MN DNR.