Olmsted County Parks Newsletter - Fall 2022
Volume 8, Issue 3
In this Issue:
Self-Service Watercrafts, The State of Bats, Meet the Interns & Seasonal Staff and more...
Chester Woods Park 2022 Seasonal Staff
by Celeste Lewis
When do the folks like to get outdoors in the Midwest? Summer! The parks in Minnesota see an exponential increase in visitors between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. Not only does the visitation increase, but the workload tends to increase as well, mowing, trail work, construction, nature programs, etc. Due to these increases, parks are heavily dependent on seasonal staff assistance. Chester Woods Park received eight additional seasonal staff this summer to assist in the workload. The seasonal staff at Chester Woods are a mix of six returning staff and two new.
McKenna Krause and KeyLee Hoffstatter are the two six-month seasonals for Chester Woods. McKenna was previously both and intern as well as a three-month seasonal at the park, about 7 years ago. She enjoys boating, fishing, hunting, and just being outdoors, as well as participating in co-ed softball, dodgeball, and kickball all year round. KeyLee is a graduate from Winona State University with a bachelor’s in environmental science and an AS from Vermillion in Science and Natural Resources. KeyLee enjoys camping and tubing as well as spending time with family and her dog outdoors.
Julia Ideker, Tasa Deden, Baden Fenton, AZ Eck, Isaac, and William Davidson are our 3-month employees. Tasa is in her third year of working for Chester Woods during the summer months. She is employed by Rochester Public Schools during the school year. Julia is a recent graduate of Dover Eyota High School with plans to attend University of Minnesota-Duluth and major in Civil Engineering. Baden Fenton is in his second year of working for Chester Woods and recently graduated from Plainview Elgin Millville High School. Baden is an avid baseball player and has plans to attend Mankato State University in the fall. AZ is fulfilling their internship as well as a 3-moth employee. They are a recent graduate of University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and is in their second year of working at Chester Woods Park. Isaac and William Davidson are brothers that graduated from St. Charles High School. Isaac is in his 4th year at Chester Woods Park and attends Winona State University for Recreation and Tourism. William is in his 3rd year at Chester Woods Park and is also attending Winona State University and majoring in Physical Education. Both young men enjoy fishing, hunting, and just plain being outside!
The full-time staff at Chester Woods Park cannot say enough about these wonderful people! Without their assistance the park would not be able to be kept up and maintained to level that it is each year. So, the next time that you are at Chester Woods Park please keep your eyes out for these folks and let them know how much you appreciate their hard work!
Pictured left to right:
Baden Fenton and Isaac Davidson working on the packer
KeyLee Hoffstatter (6 Month Seasonal) and Julia Ideker (3 Month Seasonal)
William Davidson (3 Month Seasonal)
Tasa Deden (3 Month Office Assistant)
Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo 2022 Interns
by Jaide Ryks
Hope is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota and is a Rochester-native. She studied animal and insect science in school. She hopes to have a career working with animals but is currently undecided. In her free time, Hope enjoys reading, knitting, and hiking. Here at Oxbow, she especially enjoys going on the “mandatory” wellness hikes throughout the park and really likes working with the badgers.
Jacob is a Rochester-native and a current senior at Luther college in Decorah, Iowa. Jacob is studying biology with a pre-veterinarian track. Jacob enjoys reading, playing video games and being outdoors. Although hard to decide on just one animal, Jacob really likes working with the Zollman Zoo otters. One of his favorite things to do as an intern is prepping diets for the animals.
Jo is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and is studying animal science. She is from Racine, MN and hopes to become a rural or wildlife veterinarian in the future. In her spare time, Jo likes to go rock climbing and backpacking. Her favorite zoo animal to work with is the coyote and she especially liked helping out vaccinating the animals on the annual “vaccination day.”
Anna Houston is Oxbow Park’s 6-month seasonal naturalist and maintenance worker. She grew up visiting Oxbow Park and is a Byron-native. Anna has lots of experience in both naturalist work and maintenance is great is this hybrid position! Anna was an Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo intern in 2020 so she came into the position with tons of knowledge. She is a 2021 graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse and hopes to land a full-time naturalist position in the future. In her free time, Anna likes to read, crochet, and spend a relaxing afternoon in her hammock. She really enjoys working with the animals in Zollman Zoo, especially the wolf. One of her favorite things to do as an employee at Oxbow is going on insect identification hikes and catching butterflies!
Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo 2022 Seasonal Staff
by Lonnie Hebl
Annika Anderson graduated from Byron. She is planning on pursuing a Graphic Arts degree this fall. She is an avid golfer and always, and I mean always, has a smile on her face. She has been a great help all summer. She enjoyed helping with the Zoo tasks when time allowed. Her least favorite was participating in our annual de-escalation training.
Sarah Crowley graduated from Lourdes and is hopeful to become an Attorney someday. Her ability to have a healthy debate and take a ribbing has been fun to witness and will, no doubt, be a big help in her career choice. Her favorite thing at Oxbow was painting. The least favorite was weeding the pond in the playscape.
Isaac Hamlen graduated from Mayo High and will be attending Vermillion Community College pursuing a degree in Wilderness Management. He is a musician (bass guitar and saxophone), loves the outdoors, and judging from all the interesting meals he prepares for his lunches, must be a great cook. His favorite thing at Oxbow was assisting staff with the Bison transfer. His least favorite was weeding the pond in the playscape.
Riley Kuehl is a Pine Island graduate. He will be attending UW-River Falls to pursue a career in the soil and water conservation field. He was a 3-sport athlete playing football, basketball, and baseball. He was a great help with many projects including putting his welding skills to use while building the outdoor quarantine enclosure with Tim.
This team has been all-stars all summer. Fun to work with but more importantly, refreshing to have around. They won’t realize how much work they’ve accomplished until they are gone, but I hope they do realize how much we appreciated them. Maybe I can help them with that when they come home on Christmas break and take me to lunch.
Pictured left to right: Annika Anderson, Sarah Crowley, Isaac Hamlen, Riley Kuehl
Self Service Watercrafts
by Celeste Lewis
As many of you know Chester Woods Park has relocated its watercraft rentals to the beach area. The prices for rentals are $10/hour or $30/day. The hours run from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. every day (weather pending) from Memorial weekend through Labor Day weekend.
That availability is great, but what about the early morning sunrise or the evening sunset hours that folks enjoy being on the water, or even those beautiful May, September sometimes even October days. Chester Woods Park has partnered with an organization called rent.fun to address those specific things.
Rent.fun specializes in self-service rentals of scooters, bicycles, and recently expanded to include kayaks and paddleboards. The Kayaks and Paddleboards will be in a locked storage unit that folks can utilize by registering online and reserving a watercraft.
This storage unit that will contain 2 kayaks and 2 Stand Up Paddleboards. The new amenity will be installed near our current rental watercraft and should assist in covering those times and dates that staff is not available to rent the other watercraft.
Chester Woods Park is excited to add this amenity and hopes to bring it to Lake Zumbro Park in the future!
The State of Bats at Chester Woods
by Ernie Freudenburg
Bats are often not considered the most adorable creatures in our habitat; often made fun of for their strange behaviors... “Bat counselors only have one piece of advice for their clients. Just hang in there...” You can find more of these pun sayings at 43 Bat Puns To Entertain Your Audience As You Hang Around (welovepuns.com). Enough of that!
This last Spring, the staff at Chester Woods gave the “go ahead” to Collin Elton, a local Boy Scout, working on his Eagle Scout project to build and install new bat houses for Chester Woods. The following is what Collin’s proposal included.
“My project is to make several bat houses for Chester Woods. I will be making 4 bat houses, and refurbishing 2 old bat houses, then mounting them on poles. The poles will have 2 bat houses each, for a total of 3 poles. They will then be placed around the park. Then I will be placing an informational sign about bats on each post, which will provide information on local bats, and a QR code link to The Bat Conservation International."
During one of the bad winter storms, an old bat house that was built for Chester Woods was blown over by the wind. The new bat houses serve as not only a replacement for the old one, but also a learning opportunity for people, with the addition of the informational signs. Bats are a great part of the environment and help out the park by eating bugs we find as annoying. The old bat houses were also located on 2 pavilions, where the bat guano would fall where people would be playing, eating, or walking around, leading to an unsanitary environment.” FOCW helped Collin with some of the supplies that he needed to construct these bat houses.
So, why do we love bats at Chester Woods? The predominant species of bat in Chester Woods is the Little Brown Bat. According to the Minnesota DNR website, bat research is of vital importance. Did you know that bats are the only known predator of night-flying insects? Little Brown Bats (the most common bat found in Minnesota) are known to consume their body weight in insects each night. They love to eat mosquitos, including species that carry the West Nile Virus.
Now we have to talk about White-Nose Syndrome. This disease that affects bats is caused by a virus that thrives in cold, damp environments. That is the environment of caves and mines where bats hibernate in Minnesota. The virus irritates the skin of hibernating bats, causing them to wake up during the winter when there is no food source. They expend their stored fat reserves which results in starvation. Although the disease is transmitted from bat to bat, humans can incidentally carry the fungal spores to other caves and mines on their clothing. If you have recently visited a cave you may have seen the precautions taken so that this doesn’t happen.
This fungus was first discovered in Minnesota during the winter of 2011/2012. By 2020 researchers have seen widespread declines in bat populations throughout Minnesota and assume that this infestation is now statewide wherever bats hibernate. The feeding grounds for these bats are often many miles away from their winter hibernation locations. The Little Brown is the bat species in Minnesota that is hardest hit. Declines in these populations through observation of their winter hibernation spots has been documented to be 80-99%.
At Chester Woods, the bat population has declined significantly due to this disease. However, bats are still being observed catching their prey around dusk. They have been observed in numerous places within the park. Collin has installed these new bat houses near the campground, the Legacy Trail, and the beach house.
Friends of Oxbow (FOX) Update
Have you been to Oxbow Park lately? We love seeing the progress of the new Nature Center each time we visit, and we hope you do, too! We are still inching toward our goal of raising $1 million to help fund various exhibits, landscapes, and technology in the new space. Events like Brews for the Zoo, hosted at Bearwood Event Barn on Saturday, April 30th helps us spread the word and raise funds! Due to the generous donations of local breweries and the support of so many others, we were able to raise over $10,000 at the event. Other local businesses like Hometown Haulers and Nothing Bundt Cakes have been gracious enough to host specials for customers that supported our efforts recently. Our focus has shifted to planning a VIP Night for major donors, staff, and board members to celebrate the opening of the new Nature Center. As with all projects in the current world, the date for the grand opening is still in flux! Please keep an eye on our website or social media accounts for updates.
Photo: Brews for the Zoo Fundraiser
Photo from left to right: Friends of Oxbow Members, Dawn Thompson, Lou Kuhlmann, Jan Nelson, Deb Hanson, Danielle Sterling, Seanne Buckwalter, Kristina Nelson