Local(ish) Earth Day Events

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This year’s Earth Day falls on a Monday (this April 22, to be specific). Taking the time off to properly celebrate our communal home may be difficult because of that. However, with the Easter weekend taking place directly before Earth Day, finding the time may be easier. In fact, many of the events celebrating Earth Day will be held during this upcoming weekend.

So, if you’re out of ideas for things to do for Earth Day, here are a few highlights to give you a head start.

Local Events:

Metro Events:

Many Statewide Locations:

  • Saturday, April 20-Monday April 22. 167 State Parks Across MN. Any Time – One of the best things about living in Minnesota is the variety of landscapes we have. To the forested areas to the North to the plains to the South, you can find a location that speaks to you. Dotted throughout Minnesota are 167 state parks. From historical locations to sites that celebrate our state’s natural beauty, there are so many to choose from. You’ll be sure to find one to your liking. All you gotta do is get outside!

 

 

 

Earth Day, a History

In 1969, Americans were preoccupied with the divisive Vietnam War. But another battle was occurring on the home front, with rivers and lakes polluted, cities like Los Angeles blanketed in smog, and litter a common sight everywhere.

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US Senator Gaylord Nelson was instrumental in the creation of Earth Day.

Meanwhile Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson had witnessed the effects of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Nelson, a Democrat, decided a “national teach-in” about the environment was in order, and he asked Pete McCloskey, a northern California Republican, to serve as co-chair. Groups representing causes including oil spill prevention, air pollution, toxic dumps, wilderness destruction and endangered species began to realize they were all part of a greater movement.

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Cold Weather Comfort Foods

As a lifelong resident of the Midwest, I’ve come to the realization that there is no escaping winter. It will have it’s way with you. Some people have chosen to embrace it, like our beloved Nora, who can be seen, even on the most cold and daylight deprived days, out frolicking in the ice and snow.

Other, more rational, people have made the choice to fight against the oppressive, bitter winds and the unrelenting below-zero temperatures by turning to the kitchen. There, they’ve fortified themselves through the magical art called “Comfort Food.”

I’ve asked the staff here at HDT if they have a food or recipe they use that combats the onslaught of red noses and frosty feet, and I got a bunch of goods ones. If you have any you’d like to share, please comment below!

Gluhwein

gluhweinAllison R. talks about her favorite comfort food and reminisces a bit about when she first experienced it. She says she first tried Gluhwein (“Glow Wine”) while walking a Christmas market in Germany while visiting her husband, while he was on leave. She loves the hot, citrusy, and spicy flavor. She claims it makes you warm from the inside-out.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 medium orange
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup turbinado or granulated sugar
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine
  • Rum or amaretto, for serving (optional)
Directions:
  1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange in wide strips, taking care to avoid the white pith; set aside. Juice the orange and set the juice aside.
  2. Combine the water and sugar in a large, nonreactive saucepan and boil until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce the heat and add cloves, cinnamon, star anise, orange zest, and orange juice. Simmer until a fragrant syrup forms. Takes about 1 minute.
  3. Reduce the heat further and add the wine. Let it barely simmer for at least 20 minutes but up to a few hours. Keep an eye out so it doesn’t reach a full simmer.
  4. Strain and serve in small mugs, adding a shot of rum or amaretto and garnishing with the orange peel and star anise if desired.

Shepherds Pie

shepherdspieIn my book, for a recipe to be considered “comfort food” it has to fulfill two requirements: 1) Is it warm? 2) Is it filling?

This shepherds pie hits both of these criteria in stride. After you’ve had a long day of either slogging through the ice fields on Greenland or the green fields of Iceland, you’re going to be happy to dig into this bad boy.

Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs freshly ground burger
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 carrots coarsley chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 oz frozen peas
  • 2-1/2 lbs russet potatoes peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter
Directions:
  1. Preheat over to 425F. Heat a large skillet over high heat. In two batches, cook burger until no longer pink, about five minutes each. Transfer burger to a colander set in a bowl; let fat drain off and discard.
  2. Add 1/4 cup water to the skillet, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium; add onion and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 5 minutes). Stir in tomato paste. Add flour, cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  3. Add Worchestershire sauce, 2 cups water, and burger. Season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in peas; cook 1 minute. Divide among eight 8-oz ramekins; or two 9-inch glass pie dishes.
  4. Potato Topping: In a medium saucepan, cover potatoes with salted water by 1 inch; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer until fork tender (about 15-20 minutes). Drain.
  5. In pan, bring milk and butter to a simmer, remove from heat. Return potatoes; mash. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Spread potato topping over pies; use a fork to make peaks. Bake on a baking sheet until tops are browned, 25-30 minutes. Cool slightly, serve.

 

Cornish Pastie

I asked around the staff and our resident chef, Chris G. came up with this neat little recipe. He said it reminded him of gatherings, church basements, and the way that a good meal can bring people together, which he claims is the true meaning of comfort food.

Ingredients:
  • pasty1-1/2 lbs pie crust
  • 1 lb chuck steak cubed
  • 6 oz potato cubed
  • 6 oz rutabaga cubed
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp savory
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • pinch salt & pepper
  • 1 egg (beaten)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Divide dough into 6, roll out into round shapes
  2. Mix steak, veggies, herbs & season. Then spoon equal amounts onto crusts
  3. Brush edges with water then pinch together firmly, (it must seal!)
  4. Transfer pasties to a lined baking sheet. Brush each pasty with egg, then place in oven.
  5. Cook for 15 minutes at 425F, then reduce heat to 325F and then cook for an hour.

Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 19: Reconnecting Indigenous Cultures, a Q&A With Sean Sherman

Jim, Allison, and Chris went to the MDA Organic Conference last month and Sean Sherman was the keynote speaker. Jim took a shot and asked if Sean would be interested in speaking on Turtle Talks and to our surprise, he said yes!
So, we’re very excited to have Sean Sherman on this episode. More famously known through his food production company, The Sioux Chef, Sherman talks about his mission to bring indigenous foods back to indigenous communities, helping to grow opportunities and create successful micro food systems.

You can learn more about Sherman’s non-profit organization, NATIFS (North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems) by going to https://www.natifs.org/. You will learn about his mission to help native communities reconnect with traditions and native cuisine that has been lost over the centuries due to the colonization and aggressive expansion of European settlers.

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Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 18: Kids in Nature

*For complete event details including workshop descriptions, vendor list, and to register and pay online, visit www.happydancingturtle.org. If you’d like to register now, you can go to our online registration site.*

 

We were able to tear Michelle H. and Nora W. from their Back to Basics setup (taking place THIS SATURDAY, February 2) to talk with us about the important topic of kids and nature. You won’t be surprised to learn that more and more children are spending less and less time outdoors and are choosing to instead spend their time in front of screens (of any kind).

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Shared from Allison R.

This was an eye-opening episode for me.

It made me re-evaluate the amount of time I allow my children to be occupied by electronics, and furthermore, how I, myself interact with my screens.

The point isn’t that technology is bad or worse than not using technology. What has become evident is that children are missing out on some of the things that inherently make them kids. They have optimism, energy, and want to explore things. It’s built into their core.

What is happening is that the extreme uptick in screen time use is stopping children from being able to use that core.

We need to be mindful as parents that the use of technology and the, possibly, unintended consequences of allowing too much screen time, do not interfere with letting a kid be what a kid is supposed to be.

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Love Water Not Oil Riders Make a Stop on Campus

On Friday, August 3rd, the Honor the Earth Riders made a stop on their journey west to east, trailing where a proposed oil pipeline is scheduled to be laid. With much delicious food and lots of uproarious music, the group made their stop on campus for their third straight year. You can find out more on their site, http://www.honorearth.org.

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Honor the Earth is a group that brings awareness to the way water is used. They are currently dedicated to stopping any oil line going through their lands.

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Kerri, from the Celtic duo Sister Tree, takes a moment to tune her fiddle before playing.

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2018 T-Shirt Design Contest

During the summer, Happy Dancing Turtle offers four weeks of Eco Camp, week-long environmental day camps, for Pre-K through 6th grade students. The theme of Eco Camp changes each year, which offers continued excitement and learning to our long-returning campers. For the past few years, it has become a tradition that we spend part of the first day tie-dying our camp t-shirts, which depict the current year’s theme. A few years ago, we thought, “Hey, why not have the kids draw the t-shirts?!”

 

 

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This year marked the third annual Eco Camp T-shirt Design Contest.  We ask students from across the state in grades K-12 to participate by submitting a black and white design that fits the upcoming theme. The 2018 Eco Camp theme is Birds of a Feather. Each age group in this summer’s camps will be represented by an environmentally-focused bird: Recycling Robins (Pre-K & K), Nature Nuthatches (Grades 1 & 2), Sustainable Sparrows (Grades 3 & 4), and Conserving Chickadees (Grades 5 & 6).

 

Happy Dancing Turtle would like to give a huge shout out to everyone who submitted a design! We received 412 total designs, all from our K-5 students! We reformatted our age brackets to fit our contestants, enabling us to still give out all three prize packages. The new brackets were Grades K&1, Grades 2&3, and Grades 4&5. We were absolutely blown away by the artwork submitted by these students! It was insanely difficult to pick just three from each age bracket to go on to the finals, but after long deliberation, we selected the designs in the slideshow below to go on to be judged by Audubon Minnesota.

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2018 T-shirt Contest Results – Guest Judges from Audubon Minnesota

A huge thank you to our guest judges from the Audubon Minnesota – Katie, Kristin, & Ashley! They relayed how difficult it was to choose between these wonderful designs!

Winning Design of the K-1 Grade Bracket:

Addie K Madison
Addie – Kindergarten – Winona

Winning Design of the 2-3 Grade Bracket:

Marina 3 Madison
Marina – 3rd Grade – Winona

Winning Design of the 4-5 Grade Bracket:

Nina 4 Madison

Nina – 4th Grade – Winona

Each of these winners will receive an HDT prize item, a $20 Gift Certificate to a local movie theater, and a $20 Gift Certificate to the Minnesota State Parks.

Overall Grand Prize Winner:

Marina 3 Madison

Marina – 3rd Grade – Winona

In addition, this winner will receive an honorary Eco Camp T-shirt with their design printed on it!

Again, thank you to everyone who participated! 

Eco Camp Registration Open

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WHAT WILL MY CHILD DO AT ECO CAMP?

Eco camp is a week-long day camp for children ages PreK-6th grade. We believe a passion for stewardship begins with cultivating a love of nature and being outdoors. We’ll discuss plants, animals, renewable energy, gardening, composting, recycling, and how to be a responsible caretaker of our planet. Children will be engaged in environmental education through a variety of lessons, activities, games, stories, crafts, garden experiences, outdoor play, healthy snacks, field trips, and more!

WHEN IS ECO CAMP & HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

  1. 1st & 2nd Grade – Nature Nuthatches – June 18th – 22nd
  2. 3rd & 4th Grade – Sustainable Sparrows – July 9th – 13th
  3. 5th & 6th Grade – Conserving Chickadees – July 23rd – 27th
  4. PreK & Kindergarten – Recycling Robins – August 6th – 10th

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Less Plastic

With Earth Day right around the corner, it’s a time when many pay extra attention to the Earth. It’s an opportunity to take a look at habits in your life that are supporting and even promoting plastic use. Yes, it might be time to consider your plastic consumption a little closer. We have a duty as global citizens and consumers to be making wise choices for the sustainability of the planet. Just as you “vote with your fork” when it comes to food (farming practices, ingredients, food miles, etc) and you “vote with your dollar” when it comes to products, clothing, and supporting organizations and initiatives. Our choices are often equivalent to a “vote for the environment or against it”. So why focus on plastic? In short “If nothing changes, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish (by weight).” 1 Perhaps you’ve heard there is an island of plastic trash that is floating in the ocean. “It’s a dubious honor, but humanity has managed to amass a giant trash mass about twice the size of Texas, or three times the size of France, or about 1,600 miles.” 2 This isn’t a benign issue; aquatic animals are consuming this plastic and a growing number are dying because of this. Beyond that, if you eat fish – you too might be eating small bits of plastic.

There are simple and often repeated suggestions like declining the plastic bags at the store. *Did you know that many stores have bag recycling somewhere on their premises? But far before we get to the end of a purchase and bag selection, we make choices that support a clean planet in the future.

Some New and Some Tried & True Suggestions –

Think twice about buying pre-bagged {manufacturer-bagged} vegetables or those that are wrapped in cling/saran/plastic wrap on a styrofoam tray. Additionally, instead of pulling down and using a new plastic bag for your produce – consider reusing the ones from your last trip. *Keep reusable produce bags (plastic or cloth) in your reusable shopping bags then they’re ready for the next trip to the store. Also, when buying just one (or two) of something – skip the bag.

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Back to Basics 2018 – A Primer

**Registration for the 12th annual sustainable living event, Back to Basics: Navigating Changing Currents, is open! With 45 workshops to choose from, almost 50 vendors to shop at, informative and entertaining keynote speakers, door prizes, a delicious lunch, and school aged (K-4) children’s programming available, there’s fun for the whole family! Workshops ARE FILLING UP! So, don’t miss out.**

Every winter in Northern Minnesota brings with it four things.

  1. Bitter cold
  2. Time to perfect your hot tottie recipe.
  3. A reinvigorated perspective on what is more uncomfortable: being “too hot” or “too cold”*
  4. Something wonderful.

For the last 12 years, that wonderful something has been the annual sustainable living event, Back to Basics! It’s here. It’s finally here!

We wanted to focus on the importance of water, so we made this year’s theme: Navigating Changing Currents. We wanted to make more aware the troubling times in our nation, politically anyways, so we brought in two amazing keynote speakers who are well-versed in the the importance of recognizing climate change, the worldwide ecosystem, and our place within it.

“We’ll share ‘Why we need to be concerned and what you can do about it’” stated Phil

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Mike Duvall and Phil Hunsicker will keynote the event with “slides and songs.”

Hunsicker when commenting on the keynote he and friend, Mike Duval will deliver on environmental challenges facing Minnesotans. The duo will educate and entertain with a mix of slides and songs on topics like climate change and aquatic invasive species (AIS). Both Phil and Mike work for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources where Phil is an AIS Prevention Planner in the Division of Ecological and Water Resources and Mike is a District Manager of the Division of the Ecological and Water Resources.

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