Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center
The Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center Provides a place where people of all ages can learn about the unique natural history and ongoing ecology of Sunfish Lake Park. The nature center currently offers programs such as Family Nature Exploration events, Nature Storytime, kite flying, senior programs, and volunteer community events such as tree planting and invasive management serving all ages and abilities.
We have filled our Internship Positions for the present. If more open up, they will be announced here.
If you have an open morning or afternoon, and enjoy talking with friendly people and offering them a cup of coffee, and possibly helping with tasks, you could be a receptionist volunteer. Training and volunteer background checks are provided..
We also have a very part-time opening for a paid volunteer coordinator to be a point of contact for those who may wish to volunteer, schedule reception volunteers, and assist with volunteer recognition. Contact Connie at 651-491-3853 if you might be interested.
We have established a Committee system for people who wish to participate in the activities of the nature center including program development, science projects, outreach, and so forth.
The Friends of Lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park, the non-profit corporation that runs the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center, has operated the nature center for almost four years now, and what a roller coaster ride. We were doing very well with activities and visitor levels until COVID hit, and since re-opening, things are taking off again. It has truly become a place of Peace and Respect where people of the community can teach or learn about nature. There are more opportunities for participation than the current group can handle! So our Board has set up five Committees to enable participants to work together on specific areas. These Committee names and some examples of what they might be doing are shown below. If you are interested, please contact one of the committee leads listed below. If you are not sure which Committee is best for your interests, please email us at email@example.com.
There is no obligation – you may attend a Committee meeting just to see what is going on (probably via Zoom). Please contact the person listed below if you wish to find out when that Committee meets.
Communications/Marketing/Outreach Committee will publicize the nature center through personal contacts, booths at public events, electronic media, print media and other avenues, and invite the members of our community to visit the nature center, attend our events, or meet as groups here. Our Ambassador Program is a part of this Committee, where the Ambassadors will be given kits of information to use in contacting people such as local civic groups, local businesses, homeowners associations, real estate developers, churches, etc. Contact John Neitge at firstname.lastname@example.org
Programming/Events will put together programs and activities for people of all ages. Ami Voeltz has been promoted to Programs Coordinator and has been organizing the ongoing Family Nature Exploration programs (Saturdays at 10 AM) Contact Ami at email@example.com. She has organized summer programs – 4-mornings-a-week Mini-camps and Wonder Wednesdays – Registration for Summer 2022 is open – click on the tab above.
We envision further programming being available in the future, for pre-school/early grades and Junior Trail Guides for older kids, Citizen Science for Adults 16-106, keeping the indoor and outdoor play areas interesting to returning tots, leading guided trail walks, setting up a lecture series on topics within our Mission Statement, and writing a series of guidebooks to the three separate ecological areas in Sunfish Lake Park – Prairie, Forest, and Wetlands. This Committee will plan and execute the major Events like Sunfish Lake Park Family Nature Day (first weekend of June) and Sunfish Lake Park Annual Buckthorn Festival (Saturday before Halloween), the iNaturalist City Challenge, and smaller ones like Prairie Pioneer tea parties and Science Saturdays. Or design and set up your own event – ideas are welcome! Contact Connie Kirk at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fundraising Committee will plan, organize, execute, and followup on the big “Spring for Nature” fundraising dinner next Summer as soon as we can have it, and keep in touch with major donors to show appreciation. They will also plan smaller fundraisers for specific identified needs and for community building. They will make sure that we are represented on organized donation platforms like Minnesota Give to the Max Day. Identifying and applying for grants is also a function of this Committee. Contact Connie Kirk at email@example.com
Building and Grounds Committee will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the nature center and its one-acre site, and for any upgrading of the interior or exterior features. We have established a program of temporary exhibits of nature art by local artists in various media, reduced the sound reverberation to make conversation easier in the building, put up a weather station, and improve our internet connectivity. We already have very interesting exterior features such as the Prairie Plant Specimen walk, the Rain Garden, The Monarch Waystation, the Three Sisters Garden, the Bluebird House trail, the Messy Play Area, and the Composting program, and are hoping to add more – any ideas? Contact Tony Manzara at firstname.lastname@example.org
Exhibits Committee is developing and freshening the indoor and outdoor exhibits. Come help with one of these, or organize a science project that can be shown in a display or on our website. We are looking at ways to make our exhibits more interactive and appeal to a wider range of ages. A work in progress is a graphic display of the weather station data and a connection to building energy efficiency data. Maybe a place to touch and smell the things found in the park? Maybe a map of invasive species locations? Maybe a butterfly census or a survey of the aquatic life in the ponds and lake? Contact us at email@example.com
If any of these activities are in line with your interests and you would like to learn more about them, please contact us and we will set up a time for further discussion of your specific interests and ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Receptionist – half-day a week – greet visitors, answer questions, offer coffee and cookies, etc.
- Publicity coordinator
- help with the development of trail guide information
- lead the development of an educational activity
- lead the development of a scientific study plan
- Community Liaison
- Liaison with District 834 Primary and Secondary educators
- Liaison with Senior Citizens groups and senior housing locations
- Tour guides – for building exhibits and trail walks
- Specialty Program developers
- High School Service Hour opportunities
- Eagle Scout or Gold Award Projects
- Scouting activities (all age levels)
- plant plots of the economically important crops of Lake Elmo
- 4H activity possibilities
We appreciate your ideas! Being a small non-profit, we rely on our volunteers to do most of our work. If you have an idea and you or someone you know is interested in leading the project, please contact us. Our programming is planned months in advance and our fundraising plans start many months before the event. If you would like to gather and organize the information for a project, but not lead it, we can keep the idea open in case we find someone interested in carrying it out. Thank you!
Our intern, Lucas, presented a three-session workshop on 3D Printing via Zoom which was recorded and is available free to volunteers of record. Please contact Tony (email@example.com) if you wish to join in – the workshop includes the opportunity to print something for yourself or for the nature center. Watch this video to learn more:
Teen Service Hour Opportunities
For Teen Service Hour Opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Minnesota Master Naturalist Hours
The Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center is now registered as a sponsor for Minnesota Master Naturalist hours – Thank You so much for all you do!