Welcome to March – and hopefully the first signs of Spring! The buds are fattening and the birds which nest in our neighborhood will soon be here.

We are looking forward to being able to serve our Community with indoor events again, once the threat of COVID is gone. For now, please check our “Activities to Download” page and print out something that interests you. More Detail Below. There are Word Find Puzzles, Seasonal Nature Scavenger Hunts, Games, Nature Guide Information, Coloring Activities, Picture Sudoku, and Trail Maps. The newest feature is “Nature Journal Pages” to download, print, and use to record your impressions. Or request one of our calendars shown below.

Progress in Buckthorn Elimination

Progress is being made on the effort to remove invasive buckthorn from Sunfish Lake Park. Stantec has a great start in the process of Forestry Mulching in the southwest part of the Park – click on our Buckthorn tab to see on the map. Tom Richie of Ricci Media got this video with great aerial views. You can watch Joel mow down the buckthorn mercilessly – from a safe distance. Stantec has a safety officer on site to keep visitors out of danger. If you go to watch the next forestry mulching operation – scheduled for later in February or early March – be sure to stay at least 100 feet from the action. Those chunks can fly a long way.

You can also check out this home video –

Thanks to all the volunteers who have joined us on previous second-Saturdays at 9:30 AM- we have really made a dent! We will be at it again on when weather permits. Buckthorn gets a head start by budding earlier than other plants. For really up-to-date information call George at 651-757-5610.

A 2021 Bilingual (English/Spanish) Bird Coloring and activity calendar was created through volunteer efforts. These calendars have a monthly drawing of a bird to color, next to a color picture of that bird. The months show only the names of the months and days in both languages, the phases of the moon, and the number of each day. (copyright Friends of lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park)

We hope you enjoy our Calendar (English/Spanish). The color pictures are for guidance in your coloring pleasure, but feel free to make the birds any color you like. We have some suggested possibilities for activities based on this calendar.

  1. Fill in the daily spaces with events that are important to you and yours.

2.Organize a family discussion, an educational situation, or an eldercare interaction to fill in the days.

3. Use it as daily journal to record what birds you saw, or other significant events.

4. Send one to a grandchild, other family member, or distant friend and use Zoom or Facetime to work together listing meaningful dates.

5. Use it as a teaching aid in a Spanish Immersion class, or homeschooling situation.

6. Sit quietly and color to pass the time until it is your turn to get the COVID vaccine

7. As the months pass by, tear out the pages and fold them into greeting cards

8. Add your own idea – and please let Connie know about it, by emailing connie.kirk@sminc-lake-elmo.org.

These calendars were distributed in mid-December to residents of the local senior centers as an interesting activity to do during the COVID lockdown, and about 150 copies were provided to the Spanish Immersion program at Lake Elmo Elementary School. Copies of this Bird Coloring Calendar can be ordered on our website page “Order a Calendar” for a limited time.

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, Word Find Puzzles at different levels of difficulty, other Games, and Trail Guide information.

Or Think Spring and plan for 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!

Or Start a Nature Observation diary. This activity is called “Phenology” Open this link to view an example phenology journal by Chad Kaddatz. https://simplebooklet.com/acentralminnesotanaturejournal?fbclid=IwAR2rjBFZUHP98q4wwQDeB_XmMimB5weKtjT7o2XG4H1Bz-QgCX5oLMf9HqE#page=0

We now 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.

Visits by Appointment are Available

We have established a protocol for guided tours by appointment during the COVID pandemic, requiring masks, hand sanitizing, and signing a waiver. Please contact us by email to info@sminc-lake-elmo.org if you, or your small group would like to arrange a tour. A Board decision was made on June 29th to keep the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center closed for public visits until further notice. These tours are not really suitable for tots because we have had to cover all the kid-attracting items (no way to sanitize them easily). Please click on “Hours and Location” tab for specifics.

Watch this site for the latest news.

Our outdoor attractions have now gone to seed. – Visit the Rain Garden, Prairie Plant Specimen Planters, and Monarch Waystation to see the various ways plants have evolved to spread their seeds far and wide to ensure survival.

We have made great progress in upgrading our interior exhibits, and can’t wait to re-open so 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. The report will be available in December. 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.