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Farm, Garden & Outdoors calendar published May 21, 2022

Events and classes scheduled in the outdoors, gardening and farming. Submit your event at news@wctrib.com by noon on Tuesday.

Round hay bales in a field
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Farming

Youth tractor and farm safety certification: June 14-15, Wright County Fairgrounds, Howard Lake. Cost of $40 and includes all materials and meals on training days. Scholarships are available. More information and registration at z.umn.edu/TractorSafety . The University of Minnesota Extension program provides youth 14 years and older the opportunity to learn about safe equipment operation and general farm safety. Students will work hands-on with full-sized tractors and implements, receive training in farm-related basic first aid and learn about farm safety from a range of experienced community members. Students who complete this program will receive a U.S. Department of Labor certificate of training. This certificate is required for 14- and 15-year-olds who wish to work with equipment of more than 20 horsepower off their family farm or homestead. This course includes eight hours of online instruction, completed independently before the two days of in-person instruction.

Invasive species management: June 28, all day, West Central Research and Outreach Center, Morris. The hybrid event will feature four keynote speakers via Zoom in the morning and afternoon expert talks in-person at each of the 10 research and outreach centers across Minnesota. Participants can view the morning virtual keynote sessions in person at the closest center near them or from anywhere of their choosing. At the afternoon in-person event, there will be direct access to field and research sites and attendees will have an opportunity to deepen their understanding of invasive species local to their region. It will also provide hands-on, experiential learning that will focus on the science behind invasive species and how to take action in your own communities.

Strategic farming: Registration is open for the Strategic Farming: Field Notes program designed for farmers and ag professionals. The free, 30-minute University of Minnesota Extension webinar over Zoom began May 11 and continues weekly at 8 a.m. Wednesdays. Register for the live sessions at z.umn.edu/strategic-farming . The program will feature a live webinar with interactive discussion with attendees, addressing in-season cropping issues as they arise. Weekly topics will be announced on the week of the program, maintaining the flexibility to react to issues that come up in 2022. Topics will include soil fertility, agronomics, pest management, equipment and more. Speakers will include researchers and educators from the University of Minnesota and neighboring states in addition to crop consultants and farmers. For those unable to attend live, the discussion-based series will be posted immediately following the webinar to podcast-streaming services. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or Google podcasts.

Summer Beef Tour: July 12, 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., University of Minnesota Extension Beef Team and Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association will host the tour at the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus with stops at the Andrew Boss Laboratory of Meat Science, the College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Forage Research plots. The tour starts and ends at the Minnesota Zoo where attendees will have exclusive access to the entire zoo from 4 to 8 p.m. Check-in opens at 6 a.m. at the zoo and the buses will leave at 7 a.m. Tickets are $25 per person until June 15 at z.umn.edu/MNSummerBeefTour . After June 15, tickets are $30 online or at the door. Lunch and supper are included. Inquiries may be directed to Dr. Joe Armstrong at armst225@umn.edu .

Gardening

Willmar Avenue garden plots: Summer plots are available at the Willmar Avenue Gardens, north of the bus garages. Plots are 11 feet by 16 feet and are $20 each. To reserve a plot, call Mary at 320-212-3471 .

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Wesley Community Garden plots: Summer plots are available at the Wesley Community Garden at the United Methodist Church in Willmar. Plots are 15 feet by 15 feet and are $20 each, which is refunded with certain conditions at the end of the season. To reserve a plot, call the church at 320-235-5403 .

Outdoors

Local work group meeting: June 9, 10 a.m., Renville County Government Center, Olivia. The group provides a forum for partners, farmers, agribusiness, conservation groups and local community members to share conservation activities and discuss natural resource efforts and concerns that should be prioritized. The group assists in guiding the Natural Resource Conservation Service in targeting farm bill funds for technical and financial assistance in Renville County in the future. For more information, contact the Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District online at www.renvilleswcd.com or by phone at 320-523-1550 .

Volunteer water monitors: The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is recruiting volunteers to measure water clarity in numerous lakes and streams — including several high-priority sites in the Willmar area — and then report back to the agency. Volunteers do a simple water clarity test in a body of water twice a month during the summer. Lake monitors boat or paddle to a designated spot in the lake to check the clarity, while stream monitors record data from the stream bank or a bridge over it. All equipment and training is provided, no experience is needed. The program relies on the volunteers to help monitor Minnesota’s 12,000-plus lakes and 92,000-plus miles of streams. This is the perfect opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts and those interested in helping protect the state’s natural resources. The MPCA uses the data to help determine whether lakes and streams are meeting water quality standards designed to protect aquatic life and recreational activities like fishing and swimming. In some cases, the information gathered by volunteers is the only monitoring done on a particular lake or stream.

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. For more information, visit the state Department of Natural Resources website at www.dnr.state.mn.us .

Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center: Trails at the rural Spicer center 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 Friday. Two-hour equipment rental is $20 for adults, $10 for members and $5 for all youth. Call 320-354-5894 .

  • Survival: June 18, 9 a.m. to noon, grades 4 and up, $20, advance registration required. Prepare to survive outdoors. Teamwork is key as your group builds a shelter using survival basics. Try to build a fire using a bow drill and flint and steel.
  • Climbing wall: July 23, 9 to 10:30 a.m., $20 per session, grades 3-8, advance registration required. Challenge yourself both physically and mentally at your own pace. Beginners can learn about the sport, exercise and have fun; experienced climbers can train and refine their skills. Center instructors will be there to help, and equipment is provided.
  • Climbing wall: July 23, 10:30 to noon, $20 per session, grades 9-12, advance registration required. Other details same as above.
  • Canoeing and archery: Aug. 6, 9 a.m. to noon, $20 per session, grades 4 and up. After a lesson in canoeing skills and safety, you will set off over the water to witness the wildlife of wetlands followed by learning the basics of Olympic-style target archery.
Donna Middleton started working at the West Central Tribune in 1975 and has been the news assistant since 1992. She compiles the arts, health, farm and community page calendars, as well as rewrites and works on the special sections.
She can be contacted at dmiddleton@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4341.
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Dr. William F. "Billy" Holland Jr. is an ordained minister, community chaplain and author of the "Living on Purpose" faith column. He lives in central Kentucky with his wife, Cheryl.