Hello! My name is Ellie, and I am an environmental educator with the Neighborhood Naturalist Program at the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. The aim of The Neighborhood Naturalist program is to connect children in our communities with nature through fun, hands-on environmental education programs. I serve the Upper South portion of Minneapolis and visit parks like Stewart Park, Brackett Park, Hiawatha School Park, Matthews Park, East Phillips Park, and Phillips Community Center! I have several different programs that are offered to the public, but some of my favorite are my Drop-in Discoveries (like the program at Phillips Community Center).
These drop-in programs involve bringing different environmental educational activities with me to different parks for members of the community to use/learn from freely (no registration required and no age limit, just show up!) The activities can be anything like real specimens, crafts, books, posters, games, live animals, and more! I visit each of my drop-in sites once a week at the same time each week. Come visit at the Phillips Community Center on Thursdays from 5:30-6:30p (until May 26th, 2022) to learn about a new environment-related topic and do some hands-on activities! Each week, I try to bring something new to the community. For example, I recently had a program about tornadoes where kids could read books about tornadoes, look at some pictures, do a tornado experiment with water bottles, and make tornado twist art! The week before, I had program about native Minnesota Fish and had a fish printing craft for visitors, and before that, I brought a real live salamander for people to observe! I usually like to theme these programs with nature events happening in Minnesota, but am always happy to create new programs based on what the public would like to see.
My fellow environmental educators in the Neighborhood Naturalist program serve different parts of the city, so we are spread out all over Minneapolis serving various parks and communities in a variety of ways. We provide environmental programming to Rec+ kids after school, preschool age kids at recreation centers during the day, and younger kids during Nature Play Groups and Toddler Times all across the city parks (all in addition to Drop-in Discoveries and community events). The curriculum and and activities for these programs are usually related to the season of the year, so kids are learning about relevant Minnesota related programs. If you do not have time to stop by for a program, you can also find our Adventure Hub supplies at various parks around the city. Adventure Hubs are sites where the public can check out fun and free environmental activities (like bird watching, fort building, and snow painting) to use on your own time at the park. If you want shorter timed activities, keep a look out for our Nearby Nature Posters that showcase different information and activities each week! These posters are usually posted on a fence or wall in the park. I look forward to continuing to serve the Phillips Community, and hope you visit soon!