As much as we try to embrace the biting winds, bitter cold, and endless snow (more tips on making the most of winter here), nothing buoys our Midwestern spirits like the first glimmers of spring. If you’re experiencing a touch of cabin fever yourself and looking for some fun ways to get out and explore, you’re in luck! We’ve put together a list of field trip opportunities for you and your troop to maximize these warmer, sunnier days.
Explore a Scientific and Natural Area
Unlike regular state parks, most scientific and natural areas don’t have maintained trails, so you’ll need to find your own path—making it a perfect destination for trailblazing Girl Scouts! These areas are home to native plants and animals; each area has unique flora (like peatlands) and fauna (like the piping plover) for girls to explore and observe. Before you venture out, be sure to read up on how to prevent the spread of terrestrial invasive species when you’re visiting the areas. Your troop can also sign up with the Department of Natural Resources to help clear some of these invasive plants.
Three Words: Baby. Farm. Animals.
- Gale Woods Farm: Minnetrista, MN
- Govin’s Farm: Menomonie, WI
- Minnesota Zoo: Apple Valley, MN
- Sibley Farm: Mankato, MN
Lambs and chicks and piglets, oh my! Get up close and say hello to spring’s newest arrivals at a farm or zoo near you.
Visit a Fish Hatchery
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (Fisheries Management)
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (Hatcheries and rearing stations)
Okay, so maybe baby walleyes pale in comparison to baby goats, but fish management is still important to our aquatic ecosystems (especially here in Minnesota and Wisconsin with our combined 25,000 lakes!). Girls can learn about the life cycle of fish, how lakes are stocked, and what they can do to maintain healthy habitats. The hatcheries are open seasonally and don’t accept casual visitors, so you’ll need to make reservations in advance.
Be an Amateur Phenologist
Have you ever peered out your window and noticed pasque flowers starting to bloom or the return of ruby-throated hummingbirds? Guess what—you’re an amateur phenologist! Phenology, aka the “science of appearance,” is the study of the cycling of biological events throughout the year. Phenologists observe and record seasonal changes throughout the year (like when birds migrate and when flowers bloom) and the climate’s impact on these natural events. Visit a nature center close to you, or keep it local and just take a stroll through your neighborhood—nature abounds all around us!
Dig into Local History and Heritage
Though both attractions are open year-round, spring and summer offer enhanced experiences at the monument and museum. For centuries, American Indians visited the pipestone quarries to extract pipestone to make pipe bowls for their sacred ceremonies. Beginning in April, visitors at Pipestone can see pipestone carving demonstrations by American Indian craft workers.
“Fort Alexandria,” an outdoor replica of Minnesota in the 1860s–1920s at the Runestone Museum, opens the first day of April. While you’re there, explore the First Peoples of Minnesota exhibit and see other Middle Age artifacts—including the famous Kensington Runestone.
Go on a Sculpture Walk
- Sculpture Walk St. Cloud: St. Cloud, MN
- River City Sculpture Tour: Stillwater, MN
- Hutchinson Sculpture Stroll: Hutchinson, MN
- Mankato Walking Sculpture Tour: Mankato, MN
- Sculpture Tour: Eau Claire, WI
Spend an afternoon with some outdoor works of art. Don’t see a place close to you? Map out a sculpture (or architecture) walk of your own for your community!
Lily Yu – Lily is a Volunteer Resource Specialist at River Valleys. She earned her BA in comparative literature and Japanese from Hamilton College and has a background in publishing and advertising. Though she wasn’t a Girl Scout growing up, Lily is making up for lost time by leading her daughter’s Daisy troop (who’s more excited to work on petals and Journeys—it could go either way!). In her free time, she enjoys going for long walks, reading, and spending time with her family.