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Smithsonian traveling exhibit called ‘Water/Ways’ to make its first stop in Spicer in 2016

Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center was selected as the first of six Minnesota sites where the Water/Ways exhibition — a Smithsonian traveling exhibit — will be displayed. It will be at the center, which is located in Spicer, June 27-Aug. 5. (CAROLYN LANGE | TRIBUNE)1 / 2
Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center was selected as the first of six Minnesota sites where the Water/Ways exhibition — a Smithsonian traveling exhibit — will be displayed. It will be at the center, which is located in Spicer, June 27-Aug. 5. (CAROLYN LANGE | TRIBUNE)2 / 2

SPICER — Kandiyohi County, which carries the motto “Where the lakes begin,” will host a traveling Smithsonian exhibit next summer that explores the value of water in people’s lives.

It was announced this week that the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center was selected as the first of six Minnesota sites where the Water/Ways exhibition will be displayed.

The exhibit, which is part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program, will be at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in rural Spicer for six weeks — from June 27-Aug. 5.

The center and a growing list of local partners are planning a year-long series of events that will “help to inspire wise use, appreciation and enjoyment of our rich water resources in Kandiyohi County,” said Dave Pederson, executive director of Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center.

“We want 2016 to be a year that we all pay attention to water issues,” he said.

By looking at how water has been used in the past, how it’s used now and how it will be used in the future, Pederson said he hopes the community will reach conclusions on how to “balance the needs and uses with the long-term picture.”

Water is “why we’re here,” Pederson said.

Because water is a topic that’s growing in importance on a national and global scale, learning about how water is used for everything from agriculture to recreation is crucial to protecting water for use “10 years, 100 years and 200 years from now,” Pederson said.

“It’s an important topic and it’s going to become more important,” he said.

The project will provide opportunities to “tell stories” from a variety of cultural and professional points of view about the role water plays in people’s lives, Pederson said.

It will also provide opportunities to learn about personal action people can take — such as reducing water runoff in farm fields, managing residential lakeshore property and keeping grass clippings out of street gutters — to protect water for the future.

“Everybody’s got a stake in it,” he said.

At the end of the year, Pederson hopes there will be a “much higher level of awareness in Kandiyohi County of how we’re treating our water.”

Minnesota is one of five states chosen by the Smithsonian to pilot the new traveling exhibit.

According to press information from the Minnesota Humanities Council, which is co-sponsoring the project, the initiative is designed to “reconnect Minnesotans to our water and the need to become more actively involved in its protection by using, in addition to science, the tools of story, history, faith, ethics and the arts.”

So far Pederson said there are about 16 local partners teaming up with Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center on the project, but more individuals and groups, such as the agriculture and business sectors, are being recruited and invited to participate in the programs.

The Kandiyohi County Historical Society is a major partner in the project, and several other water, arts and conservation agencies as well as local governments are involved.

Exhibit to visit six rural sites

Six greater Minnesota communities will explore the meaning of water from June 25 through April 9, 2017, with the Water/Ways Smithsonian traveling exhibit.

The sites include:

• Spicer: June 25 – Aug. 7 at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center

• St. Peter: Aug. 13 – Sept. 25, 2016 at Nicollet County Historical Society

* Red Wing: Oct. 1 – Nov. 13, 2016 at Goodhue County Historical Society

• Sandstone/Pine City (Pine County): Nov. 19, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017 at Audubon Center of the North Woods

• Lanesboro (Fillmore County): Jan. 7 – Feb. 19, 2017 at Lanesboro Arts

Detroit Lakes: Feb. 25 – Apr. 9, 2017 at Becker County Historical Society

Information about the exhibition can be found at museumonmainstreet.org/water.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750
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