News from the North Woods - Spring/Summer 2019 newsletter

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Audubon Center of the North Woods

Spring/Summer 2019 Volume 45, Issue 1

News from the North Woods Experience Your Environment

Making Nature Accessible by Bryan Wood, Executive Director

Something many of us likely took for granted while growing up was having access to the outdoors. Maybe you grew up in the country, maybe you had a small park or undeveloped lot you could walk to from your home, or maybe your parents took you to places to enjoy nature together. Today, those opportunities are not there for many children and making the outdoors accessible to society’s youth is a growing problem. As ACNW strives to connect as many kids to the environment as possible to help them gain understandings of how nature works and experience its wonder, we must be proactive to ensure these opportunities continue into the future. Funding field trips to places like ACNW has become more difficult as schools face budget deficits where inflation and rising expenses outpace state funding. Difficult decisions must be made, and reducing or eliminating financial support for experiences like ACNW occurs, forcing a higher financial burden onto families. With 37% of Minnesota’s children eligible for free and reduced price meals, many parents cannot cover extra costs like field trips. Students who attend schools that are underfunded and coming from homes where making ends meet is a challenge are increasingly being excluded from nature. ACNW recognizes that for our organization to continue to deliver lifechanging experiences to K-12 students each year, we must provide funding assistance for schools. With the completion of this school year, ACNW will have awarded more than $100,000 in K-12

scholarships, impacting more than 2,000 students over the last two years. This is the most we have ever awarded and a huge thanks goes to you. In October 2018, our second annual Bids for Kids K-12 scholarship event raised over $30,000! This fall, the event will be held in the Twin Cities (Silverwood Park in New Brighton on 11/7/19) to make it more accessible for many current and prospective supporters to attend. Please join us!

While generating scholarship funds is an important way to help schools, another component to our long-term strategy for funding K-12 school visits is grants. We have been very fortunate in recent years to receive K-12 scholarship grants from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, Ecolab, Onan Family Foundation, Minneapolis Audubon Chapter, Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter and St. Paul Audubon Society. Right now, there is a state bill making its way through the House and Senate called “No Child Left Inside” which would establish a state grant program and funding for schools to go on

field trips to nature centers, state parks and environmental learning centers like ACNW. If you believe that Minnesota should help schools connect kids to the outdoors, please contact your local state representative and senator and urge them to vote for this bill. Establishing a state grant program to provide funding for K-12 outdoor learning experiences is an investment in our children, our state, and our future. When we come together, we make a difference and the future gets a little brighter. Over the past 50 years, together we have done this time and again and created an organization that has made an incredible impact for the environment and touched hundreds of thousands of participants. Please join us as we celebrate our past 50 years during our 50th Anniversary Celebration, June 14-16! With lodging, camping, meals, outdoor family activities and an evening program where we will hear from founding Executive Director Mike Link, longtime Associate Director Craig Prudhomme and others, this will be a great weekend to reflect on what we have achieved, as well as set our sights on the horizon. Thank you for your support of ACNW. In This Issue Making Nature Accessible..........1

Naturalist Intern Program.........5

Annual Fund Update..................2

Upcoming Events.......................6

Donor Spotlight.........................3

CS Authorizer Update................7

White-Nose Syndrome..............4

Wish List....................................7

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News from the North Woods

Annual Fund Update

Spring/Summer 2019

Stretch your generosity with tax-wise giving

by Jim De Young, Development Director

The Bids for Kids scholarship fundraiser in October launched a remarkable season of giving by ACNW supporters, with more than $125,000 donated between mid-October and mid-January. Bids for Kids alone raised more than $30,000, 20 percent more than our goal.

With the tax-filing deadline approaching, you may be dealing with one of the effects of the federal tax law overhaul. For many Americans, the doubling of the standard deduction means that itemizing deductions, including charitable contributions, won’t pay off or may require a different approach to their giving.

2018-19 Annual Fund Progress* Program Support Buildings & Grounds Scholarships

$135,000 $90,000 $25,000

$104,508 $7,980 $30,376

One approach is to simply reframe the situation. Think of it as earning credit for your giving without having to account for it to the IRS! Or, more seriously, remember that your giving arises from your commitments to causes and purposes that are far more important than any tax benefits you might gain. That said, the following strategies may help you maximize your generosity:

*through Feb. 28

$250,000 $142,864

Bunching gifts by year or with donor-advised funds


Significant progress has also been made toward the program support goal. With about a third of the fiscal year remaining, donors have provided more than 75 percent of the funds we need to bolster programming for nearly 10,000 children, young people, and adults this year. Along with targeting expenses such as staff salaries and program materials, the goal includes “seed money” to begin planning the transition of the donated Trapp land into a farm that will educate and feed program participants. Donations designated for building and grounds have primarily addressed two needs so far: purchasing a new (used) groomertowing snowmobile and replacing the maple sap evaporator pan. The snowmobile purchase was made possible, in part, by a gift from the Northern Pine Riders Snowmobile Club. Two items lead the list of facility needs remaining to be addressed. Last fall we received a donation of shingles to reroof Crosby Lodge, our large dormitory. Now we need contributions totaling $14,000 for installation, which we hope to complete within the next few months. Donations are also needed to cover the $10,000 cost of major maintenance of Audubon Road—our mile-long “driveway.” Several loads of class V gravel are needed to amend the road, smoothing out ruts and filling areas of erosion. Neighbors who access their property from Audubon Road have stepped up to cover a share of the cost, leaving $9,000 remaining to complete the project, which will be needed soon after the spring thaw. Please consider contributing toward these important program and facility priorities. As always, you can be assured that your undesignated gift will be used where most needed. We are also happy to accept your designated gift if you wish to support one of the specific needs described above, listed here in priority order: program support, Crosby Lodge roof, or Audubon Road maintenance. To discuss how you can make your generosity go further to help children, young people, and adults of all ages connect with nature at ACNW, contact Jim DeYoung - email or call 320-245-7791.

Bunching two or more years of gifts into one year could allow you to qualify for an itemized charitable deduction in that year. But how would that affect the charities you support, which rely on a steady stream of donations? That’s not a problem at ACNW, since our fiscal year (July 1- June 30) crosses over two tax years. For example, a gift in the first half of 2019 would support us for the current fiscal year; a second gift, between July 1 and December 31, 2019, would support us for next fiscal year. A donor-advised fund (DAF) is another way to bunch gifts, while also simplifying your taxes and allowing you to maintain regular giving patterns with your favorite charities. You make a single contribution, or a handful over the course of a year, to a community foundation or the charitable arm of a financial services firm, then request grants to your favorite charities over time. Minimums to establish a DAF range from $5,000 to $25,000. The tax deduction is earned in the year of the original contribution(s), there’s only one contribution (or a few) to account for at tax time, and the DAF can grow through investment until gifts are distributed.

Making a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) Donors who are at least 70 ½ can take advantage of an IRA, donating all or a part of their annual required minimum distribution (RMD). A distribution made directly to a charity is not taxed as income, generally providing a larger tax savings than if the same amount were given in cash and claimed as an itemized deduction.

Gifting appreciated assets The laws governing contributions of appreciated assets did not change, so these gifts still offer tax benefits. Donating assets such as stock or mutual fund shares, real estate, or business interests eliminates the capital gains taxes that would be owed if the asset were sold. The donation would also qualify for a deduction of the assets’ fair market value, if you’re itemizing deductions. 888-404-7743

Spring/Summer 2019

News from the North Woods

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Vetter remembers the beginning, looks to the future of ACNW by Jim De Young, Development Director

When Mary Ellen Vetter decided to take advantage of the tax benefits of giving to ACNW from her IRA, it was just the latest in a long history of pioneering efforts to build up the Audubon Center of the North Woods.

of a dire situation, and the Center responded with an explosion of new and complementary programs and initiatives.” Over the years, Mary Ellen has also demonstrated leadership in her financial support for ACNW. A long history of annual donations took the form of qualified charitable distributions from her IRA when that option became available. And she was among the first members of ACNW’s fledgling Legacy Society, beginning with a contribution to the scholarship endowment, followed by a charitable gift annuity and a bequest.

Matter of fact, Mary Ellen was involved before it was the Audubon Center of the North Woods. She was president of the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis, one of the three metro Audubon chapters that founded the then Northwoods Audubon Center following the gift of the property to the National Audubon Society in 1968. “In the earliest years, the metro Audubon chapters appointed representatives to operate the Center under Mike Link,” explained Mary Ellen. “Our chapter facilitated members attending outings and field trips at the Center...raised funds, awarded summer camp scholarships, and promoted Northwoods memberships.” Mary Ellen remained involved as ACNW progressed, so much so that when she was asked to join the board of directors in 2000, she says that the general reaction was, “Haven’t you always been on the board?” She remained a board member for 17 years, serving as board secretary for most of that time and as president

in 2011 and 2012. She continues to serve on the development and charter school committees. Mary Ellen points to building projects in the 90s as the most significant developments in ACNW’s history. “The construction of Crosby Lodge, Blandin Dining Hall, and Lowry Lodge allowed students to be in residence for an immersion in an environmental experience,” she said. “Last Child in the Woods (Louv) created public awareness

“Since the security of an organization requires stable and significant funds for future planning, I was happy for the opportunity to join the Legacy Society,” she said. Mary Ellen rightly takes satisfaction from her half-century of involvement with and investment in ACNW, especially in the lives that have been touched in that time. “It has been a delight and a privilege to be part of the Center’s growth and success,” said Mary Ellen. “I envision that our early students are now parents and are joyfully passing on the connection and commitment to the environment to their children.”


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News from the North Woods

Spring/Summer 2019

Spread of White Nose Syndrome Affecting Bat Populations by Elyse Bowling, former Naturalitst Intern

My career began in the mountains of Pennsylvania working with the Northern long-eared bat, the victim of a terrible fungal disease. The fungus grows on the delicate wing membranes and faces of bats during the winter, leaving distinctive scarring. Over the course of three months, I saw bat after bat with this same scarring. It seemed like almost every adult bat was marked with it. It quickly became obvious that my target species was not the only one suffering from this outbreak. White nose syndrome (WNS) is caused by Pseudog ymnoascus destructans (Pd), a coldloving fungus that grows on hibernating bats. The first North American cases of WNS were in New York in 2006. Since then, the fungus has been spreading across the United States and into Canada. After twelve years, WNS is confirmed to have spread to 33 states and seven Canadian provinces. The fungus is also found in Europe and Asia, though the bats there seem unaffected. In Minnesota, Pd has been confirmed in 13 counties as of last winter and was first detected back in 2011. Bats are often considered pests for roosting in human structures. However, bats provide a valuable ecosystem service of insect pest control which limits agricultural destruction. Bat species native to Minnesota include the cave-dwelling Northern long-eared bat, little brown bat, big brown bat, and tricolored bat, as well as the forest-dwelling silver-haired

For an interactive look at how WNS has spread since the first US case was discovered in Feb. 2006 in a cave near Albany, NY, visit

under the Endangered Species Act because of extreme population declines caused by WNS.

bat, Eastern red bat, and hoary bat. All native Minnesotan bats are insectivorous and can potentially consume thousands of mosquitoes each night. Generally cave-dwelling species hibernate and forest-dwelling species migrate, and it is therefore those hibernating species that are most affected by WNS. All Minnesotan bats are slow to reproduce, mating in the fall and birthing 1-2 pups in the spring. Once impacted by something like WNS, their populations are extremely slow to recover. In the twelve years since WNS was first identified in New York, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has estimated that more than 5.5 million bats have died from its effects. In areas of severe impact, mortality rates for bat species may range from 90 to 100%. WNS does not itself kill the bat. Instead, the fungus grows on the exposed skin of the bat during periods of inactivity such as hibernation and the sensation causes the bat to awaken from torpor. During torpor, the bat’s internal body temperature is significantly lower than normal in order to preserve food resources. However, to rouse from torpor the bat must utilize its fat stores to bring its body temperature up to normal. Pd causes excessive rousing which in turn causes the bat to deplete its fat stores and therefore starve to death. As of 2015, the Northern long-eared bat has been listed as a Threatened Species

Research into the effects of WNS is extensive and ongoing. However, there are ways we can help our friends at home. Mounting bat boxes or leaving dead stands of trees on your property provides bats with habitat that was at risk even before WNS spread. Avoiding caving in the winter and/or decontaminating your clothes and boots between locales helps limit the spread of WNS. Finally, if you find groups of bats, a sick or dead bat, report your findings to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

A little brown bat, one of the most common bats in North America, without visible signs of white nose syndrome.

A little brown bat, showing visible signs of white nose syndrome on its muzzle, ears (top), and wings (right). Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the fungus that causes WNS, exhibits a gray color when grown in a laboratory (left). Photographs by Ryan Von Linden, 2008. CC BY 2.0 (Top and Right) and DB.Radabaugh, 2013. CC BY-SA 3.0 (Left). 888-404-7743

Spring/Summer 2019

News from the North Woods

ACNW’s Naturalist Intern Program by Connie Haugen, Program Director

For the last 50 years, ACNW has provided top-quality outdoor, environmental, and experiential education opportunities for thousands of learners of all ages. While our legacy of education began with our founding director, Mike Link, being the only educator in the organization (or the only employee for that matter) educating hundreds, our legacy continues to grow 50 years later, with a robust education staff reaching thousands of learners every year. We couldn’t carry out our very important work for this large number of people without our education team – specifically without our annual cohort of educators that we fondly refer to as our interns.

them critical teaching skills and guidance to be able to successfully engage and inspire our visiting learners. That’s not an easy task when you consider the varied backgrounds, skill levels, personal goals, and personality each incoming intern brings with them. Our interns inject energy, laughter, new skills and fresh-thinking into our daily work lives. We work with them for a year, get to know them, then wish them well as they move on to their next challenge. We are sad to see them go, but then are happy to welcome a new cohort in and start the cycle over again.

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Becoming a Naturalist Intern Do you know anyone who is looking to dive in and explore the field of environmental education? We begin the hiring process mid-winter with an annual start in June. The temporary, full-time position runs June-June and is kicked off with our busy summer camp season. We welcome people of all religions, gender expressions, cultures, economic and social backgrounds, academic programs, and life experiences to apply. We strive for a teaching staff as diverse as nature itself. Anyone interested in this rewarding experience can contact me or our education manager, Emily Porter, by emailing

outside and….long hours. There’s simply no getting around the long hours. When visitors are here 24/7, there will be needs that have to be met 24/7. The reward in this is when visitors leave and we receive feedback about how great the programming was, how excellent the quality of teaching is, how welcoming and friendly the staff is, or how this experience changed their life or the life of a student. There’s absolutely nothing better for any of us.

If you’ve ever attended one of our events, a K-12 field trip, community college field class, a Dinner at the Lake, dropped off a youth camper, or rented one of our lodges, you’ve interacted with one of our interns. Not only do they teach the bulk of our youth programming, they are also the ever-present force behind the day-today goings on at the Center. Most of our interns arrive right out of college with a background in biology, ecology, or a similar natural science background. However, some have backgrounds in social sciences or liberal arts. All come with one thing in common – they want to teach. Our Education Manager’s role, in part, is to take this cohort of environmental education hopefuls and unite them in our mission, teach them our curriculum, and give

The beauty of an internship is that it gives one the opportunity to be fully immersed in a career with a relatively short commitment. This is ideal because the work, while rewarding and full of purpose, can be draining and demanding. Environmental education, especially in a residential setting, is not something one can master by taking a class, studying a book, or even by completing a degree program. The only way to know if environmental education is truly the right career path is to jump in head first and swim. Some interns will come to realize it’s not their cup of tea. As anyone who has been through our internship program will tell you, it can be a very challenging yet rewarding experience. Difficult kiddos, uncooperative weather and long hours can be balanced with enthusiastic students, beautiful days spent

As an education facility, we are defined by the visitors we teach and the programs we provide to learners of all ages. Whether it’s our powerful K-12 field trip experience, our summer youth camps, the community Maple Syrup program, our J-term college course, or a Dinner at the Lake, our reach is widespread and our students are many. However, I never want to forget the education happening in our own staff office everyday. The education of the ones doing the educating. Our interns have made a commitment to environmental education, and they are potentially only a step away from being the next leaders and changeagents in the field. They have signed up for a marathon year; to be put out on the front lines, completely vulnerable, with nothing more than a desire to explore the field, a passion for the environment, a love of teaching, and the on-the-job training that we strive to provide. We aim to give them the skills and tools they need to have a successful year here, as well as prepare them for wherever their next steps may lead them. 888-404-7743

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News from the North Woods

Spring/Summer 2019


ACNW’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Join us to help commemorate our first half century!

June 14-16 - For ACNW alumni and donors, we’ve planned a weekend

of reunion, remembrance, reflection and recreation! The weekend kicks off with socializing on Friday night and ends after breakfast on Sunday morning. We have lodging packages and camping packages are available (that include all meals, including Saturday’s dinner), as well as a la carte meals for purchase for campers. Registration required.

Day of June 15 - an ‘Open House’ day free for everyone, filled with activities such as High Ropes Course,

Canoeing, Archery, Climbing Wall, Campus Tours, Forestry Hikes, and Open Barn. Lunch is available for purchase.

Evening of June 15 - a special 50th Anniversary Dinner at the Lake. Reservations required. Visit for more information or call 320-245-2648, ext. 101

Upcoming 2019 Events Spring/Summer/Fall

April 13............................................................Dinner at the Lake with Katie-Lyn Bunney, Monarch Butterflies May 2-8..................................................................................Road Scholar® Spring in the Mississippi River Valley May 3-5....................................................................................................Women’s Wellness & Adventure Weekend May 13-19..............................................................................Road Scholar® Spring in the Mississippi River Valley May 31-June 2.......................................................................................................................Volunteer Work Weekend June 15............................................................................................................................50th Anniversary Celebration June 23-28............................................................................................................Outdoor Explorers Summer Camp July 7-12.............................................................................................................Wild About Animals Summer Camp July 14-19............................. Road Scholar® Outdoor Adventures in the Northwoods With Your Grandchild July 21-26.........................................................................................................Rocks, Ropes & Rafts Summer Camp August 4-11.............................................Road Scholar® MN’s Boundary Waters: The Spirit of Canoe Country August 11-16....................... Road Scholar® Outdoor Adventures in the Northwoods With Your Grandchild August 18-25..........................................Road Scholar® MN’s Boundary Waters: The Spirit of Canoe Country August 23-25........................................................................................................................Volunteer Work Weekend September 21................................................................. Dinner at the Lake with Lonnie Dupre, Arctic Explorer September 28-October 2.........................Women’s Adventure Spree – Experience the Superior Hiking Trail October 4-6............................................................................................Women’s Wellness & Adventure Weekend Visit the CALENDAR OF EVENTS on our website or email for more information

2019 ACNW Summer Youth Camps Outdoor Explorers

June 23-28; For kids entering grades 5-7

Wild About Animals

July 7-12; For kids entering grades 4-6

Rocks, Ropes & Rafts

July 21-26; For kids entering grades 6-8

Outdoor Adventures in the Northwoods With Your Grandchild

Road Scholar® intergenerational program #23100 Best suited for grandparents with grandchildren 12-15 years old

Two sessions: July 14-19 and August 11-16 888-404-7743

Spring/Summer 2019

News from the North Woods

Meet Our New Operations Director –

Susan Diersen

In January, Susan Diersen joined the ACNW family, serving in the newly created role of Operations Director. In this role, she is responsible for Finance, Marketing & Communications, Information Technology, Food Service and Land & Buildings. Her many years of management experience in those areas, both with profit and nonprofit organizations, will serve ACNW well. Susan grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota, with the Minnesota River at her doorstep. Her love of nature is rooted in the fact that she spent most of her childhood playing and hiking in what is now the Minnesota River Valley Refuge. Susan currently resides on a small organic farm in Rush City Minnesota with her husband, where they grow fruit, flowers, vegetables, and herbs, as well as care for their dogs, cats, goats and rabbit. Susan enjoys visual art and photography, writing, creating found poetry, baking, cooking, gardening and spending time with friends and family.

Charter School Authorizer Update by Erin Anderson, Authorizing Specialist

In January, the Charter School Division said good-bye to its long-time Director of Charter School Authorizing, David Greenberg. David is leaving ACNW after seven years to join the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) as the Director of Leadership Development where he will support the learning, development and leadership of authorizers around the country. We want to thank David for his many years of work to build a high quality authorizing program that helps the Audubon Center meet its mission and spread environmental education throughout schools in Minnesota.

News to celebrate from ACNW-authorized schools: yy Aurora Waasakone Community of Learners, a charter school opening in Bemidji in fall 2019, was recently awarded a Charter Schools Program (CSP) Grant from the Minnesota Department of Education to help fund their startup costs. Congratulations Aurora Waasakone! yy Congratulations to River’s Edge Academy for being designated a 2018 Green Ribbon School! The U.S. Department of Education honors schools that are leading the way in reducing environmental impact, promoting health, and ensuring high-quality environmental education programming that prepares students with sustainability skills and concepts. Congratulations River’s Edge Academy! yy There’s lots of building going on at ACNW authorized schools this year. Crosslake Community School in Crosslake moved into its new home this fall. Partnership Academy, AFSA High School, and North Lakes Academy are all building or renovating new spaces to serve more learners. Congratulations to all the charter schools expanding! For more information on ACNW’s roles as a charter school authorizer, please check out our Charter School Division’s website at

Page 7 We are in need of the items below. Remember, your ‘in-kind’ donations are tax-deductible.

General Wish List n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n

Utility trailer Balls (soccer, volleyball, football, etc.) Industrial-size washer & dryer Firewood Topsoil for lawn rehab Small kid x-country skis & snowshoes Backpacking stoves (MSR) 4-person tents Large mixing bowls and platters Gas pole/limb trimmer Snowmobile, wide-track Bobcat/skidster ATV Rubbermaid bins with lids Gas trimmer Chipper

Wildlife & Education Program Wish List Our wish list for both wildlife and education programs is now found at Just search for “Audubon Center of the North Woods” under ‘Wish Lists’ on To find our wish lists on a) Hover your mouse over ‘Accounts and Lists’ b) Choose ‘Find a List or Registry’ c) Search for Audubon Center of the North Woods.

If you shop on amazon, you can support ACNW simply by using (instead of

A small portion of your purchases are donated to ACNW (at no cost to you)!

1) Login into Amazon Smile at using your regular Amazon login info 2) If logging into Amazon Smile for the first time, you will be asked to choose a charity. Search for “Audubon Center of the North Woods” and click “Select”. Note: if you’ve previously used and would like to change your charity to ACNW, you can do so at any time: Simply hover your mouse over the charity you are currently supporting (at top, under the search bar) and choose ‘Change’.


Audubon Center of the North Woods Experience Your Environment P.O. Box 530, Sandstone, MN 55072 Phone: 888-404-7743 or 320-245-2648 Fax: 320-245-5272

If you would like to view this newsletter online instead, please send an email to and we will add you to our enewsletter list


Visit our website! News from the North Woods Volume 45, Issue 1—Spring/Summer 2019 Bryan Wood, Executive Director Laurie Fenner, editing/layout Published twice yearly by Audubon Center of the North Woods Mail, call or email us your inquiries and ideas. Printed with soy-based inks on paper containing 100% post-consumer waste, 100% carbon neutral and made with 100% renewable green energy.

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• We will not solicit you for annual giving during your sustaining period. However, to keep you informed about what’s happening at ACNW, we will send you our Newsletter - via email or US mail. • You get an annual summary of your gifts at tax time. Simple and easy with convenient and secure withdrawals from your credit card or checking account. • Budget-friendly and saves you time and money – no checks to write or postage to buy. • Your sustaining gifts provide a dependable, ongoing source of funding while reducing administrative costs.