Outdoors

Sibley State Park: A vehicle permit is required to enter the park and is available online. Sibley State Park is west of New London just off U.S. Highway 71. Construction projects include renovation of the amphitheater near the Interpretive Center and a new trail connecting Sibley State Park to the Glacial Lakes State Trail, which requires closing of the Mt. Tom Trail this summer. The beach store is open. For more information, visit the state Department of Natural Resources website at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center: Trails may be used during daylight hours at no cost. A bathroom with composting toilets is open by the pavilion. Pets should be on a leash. All equipment rentals (fat-tire bikes, kayaks, canoes) will be handled on a reservation basis, made at least 24 hours in advance. To reserve equipment for the weekend, please call by noon on Friday.

Special events this summer include:

  • Kayaks at Foot Lake: June 26, 9 to 11 a.m., a Willmar Parks & Recreation program, register in advance on department web page at willmarmn.gov.
  • NorthStar Trail Travelers Walking: July 18, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., more information at nsttclub@gmail.com.
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Gardening

Backyard Birdhouses: 6 to 7 p.m., June 16, display garden, University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center, 46352 State Hwy. 329 in Morris. Learn the various specifications of birdhouses for chickadees, wrens, bluebirds, wood ducks and tree swallows — and learn why they need different types of houses to meet their shelter and nesting needs, the best place to put your birdhouses, and what you can do to protect the nesting birds from predators. Bring along your binoculars for an evening of bird watching in the Horticulture Display Garden.

Presented by Dr. Margaret Kuchenreuther, associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota Morris. She teaches courses in ecology, conservation biology and plant systematics and conducts research on prairie restoration and management. In her spare time, she is an avid gardener and bird watcher.

Registration is required upon arrival. Class size limited to the first 25 people; first-come, first-served. Social distancing and masks required. This “Come Grow with Us” class is free, but donations are accepted. For more information, call 320-589-1711.

Farming

Partners in Ag Innovation Conference: July 29, MinnWest Technology Campus, free for ag producers and agribusiness professionals. The MinnWest Technology Campus and the Kandiyohi County & City of Willmar Economic Development Commission are joining forces to co-host the conference. The theme is “From Survive to Thrive.” As we think about this year’s conference, we are still emerging from the fast-track of change and unexpected events brought on over the past year but we are feeling hopeful and ready to emerge on the other side. Through this difficult period, comes a time for transformation and growth. Let us take what we learn from 2020 and learn to not just survive … but thrive. We are prepared to go entirely virtual or hybrid and will keep attendees informed as planning progresses. Even with a virtual format, this year's event will include more interaction and small group discussions. See www.partnersinag.com for a provisional agenda.

Conservation practices cost share: The Kandiyohi Soil and Water Conservation District has cost share available for structural and nonstructural conservation practices. Landowners may receive up to 75% cost share on certain practices, including pollinator plantings, field windbreaks, well sealings, cover crops, wetland restorations, sediment control structures, rain gardens and more. Call the Kandiyohi SWCD at 320-235-3540, ext. 3.

Cover-crop cost share: Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District and Hawk Creek Watershed Project are offering cost-share for cover crops planted between April 1 and Sept. 15. Up to 75% of costs to plant cover crops (e.g. seed, labor, equipment use, seed incorporation) with a maximum payment of $2,000 per farmer per year with a maximum of three years of cost-share through this program. To qualify for the cost-share program, you must sign a cost-share contract, use a seed mix with at least three different species pre-approved by Renville SWCD, turn in all seed tags, and pass a field inspection by a Renville SWCD employee. For more information, call Ethan Dahl at 320-523-1550, ext. 101, or email ethan.dahl@mn.nacdnet.net.