FAMILY NATURE DAY WAS SATURDAY JULY 10TH FROM 9 AM TO NOON – we were blessed with beautiful weather. We estimate that about 175 guests participated, we gave out 75 gift bags for the kids! Our next big event will be the Annual Sunfish Lake Park Buckthorn Removal Festival, planned for Saturday October 23rd, 9AM to 1 PM. Mark your Calendar.

The Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center is open for visitors.

Hours are 9 AM to 4 PM Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. Wednesday and Saturday 9AM to Noon (or perhaps later). Stop at the reception desk for a scavenger hunt sheet, a trail map, and other information, or check out kid’s binoculars, magnifying glasses, bug-catchers, clipboard, etc… Complimentary Coffee and Tea are available. A few more reception volunteers are needed. If you, or you and a friend, enjoy talking with people and providing information, and would like to help, please email

The Friends of Lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park are excited about the result of our latest cooperation with the Washington County Library! Andrew, Rebecca, Teresa and Olivia from the Library installed story boards on our holders. Andrew made a video that day, it includes a visit to the beehive “Up Close and Personal” check it out on YouTube at

Rebecca has done the Librarian Readings on Fridays, this event is scheduled for every second Friday morning at 10 AM: July 23rd, August 6th and 20th. See Programs/Events tab for more detail.

You may visit any time the Park is open, walk the trail around the nature center, and read the story “A Bee’s Life / La vida de una abeja” by Dona Herweck Rice in either English or Spanish. The story is suitable for early grades, up to and including grandparents of all ages, and ties in with information in our beekeeping exhibit. On the other side of the holders we have placed the illustrated version of Emy’s Guide to the Animals of Sunfish Lake Park. You may not have heard, but Emy is the Director of Animal Communications at the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center, and she has a quirky way of telling a story. Follow this link to read it.

The bees are doing well. Four volunteers are running a beekeeping program. They set up an apiary, and an observation hive in the nature center, where visitors can watch the bees make wax, honey, and more bees! And try to spot the Queen. Check out the apiary building activity on YouTube – .Thanks Paul, Bob, and Craig!

Activities to Download

We are offering free downloads of nature-based activities – click on “Activities to Download” in the tabs above. These activities include illustrated nature Scavenger Hunt sheets, Nature Journal pages, Word Find Puzzles at different levels of difficulty, other Games, and Trail Guide information.

Or Think Summer and plant a DO IT YOURSELF POLLINATOR GARDEN– attract and nourish pollinators. Click here to find links to various websites that provide help in setting up a pollinator garden on your own property – small or large!

More information about native plant gardening is found on the DIY links tab above.

Or Start a Nature Observation diary. This activity is called “Phenology” Open this link to view an example phenology journal by Chad Kaddatz.

We have a flagpole where you may fly the United States flag in honor of a veteran or first responder. Installation was arranged by Matthew Bohlig as an Eagle Scout project. Please click on “Flagpole Reservations” tab for information on how to reserve this location.

Volunteers are tending the Rain Garden, Prairie Plant Specimen Planters, and Monarch Waystation and they are in full glory this Summer.

We have made great progress in upgrading our interior exhibits, now that we are open, you can see and experience them.

We have done the Fall 2020 nesting survey of the birdhouse trail, and found much more nesting activity this year. To see the illustrated report of the 2019 Birdhouse Nesting Survey, click on this link:  SMINC Birdhouse survey 11-29-19 w pics    For further information on the birdhouse project, click on the Exhibits, Trail Guides and Science Projects tab above.

For volunteer opportunities, go to the Volunteer or Intern page.

The Friends of Lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park rely on donations to operate the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center as a community resource within our Mission.  Please click on the “How to Donate” page and help us if you can.