pebc logo

whats new
about us


learning links
conatact us

The mission of the PEBC
is to be a vehicle for understanding and appreciating the natural
wonders in our own backyards.

Summer 2014 Public Programs

Solar Lanterns

The Prairie Ecology Bus Center offers a variety of naturalist programs for the general public primarily in the summer and winter months. The programs change each season and current classes are listed below. All programs are located at Sparks Park, 935 North Hwy. 86 in Lakefield, unless otherwise noted.

To attend any of these programs, we ask that you pre-register at least two business days ahead of time, unless otherwise noted, so that we can be sure to have enough supplies for everyone. We may also need to inform you of any changes or updates. You can register by calling the PEBC at 507.662.5064 or email Programs will cancel if minimum enrollment has not been met by the registration deadline. Please helpus ensure the sucvcess of tese programs by registering ahead of time.

Volunteers Wanted! Do you have a hobby or skill that you'd like to share with others? If so, contact the PEBC! We are looking for folks who'd be interested in leading a class either in winter or in the summer. Give us a call to share your ideas and we'll work with you to organize and schedule a class or even a tour. No teaching experience necessary - just a willingness to share a favorite hobby or craft.

See what we are offering at Sparks Park - and check back often for new listings or date changes!

Program Name
Program Details
Program Description
Nature Packs

"Birding Adventures"

"Geology Rocks!"


"Outdoor Skills"


Check out one of PEBC's Nature Packs today for a weekend or for family vacation fun!! The Nature Packs are designed with families, youth groups, schools and home schools in mind. Each pack contains activities suitable for both individual explorations, as well as, groups. Packs can be checked out for up to two weeks at a time. You will be resopnsible for lost packs or broken equipment. For more information, call the PEBC at 507-662-5064.

Click here to view Nature Packs in detail!



Garden Camp Coming Soon!!

Who: Youth Who Have Completed Grade 2 and Older

Back for its fifth year, garden camp is seeking interested young gardeners who aren't afraid to get a little dirty, who like to be outside, are willing to explore bugs and birds and other interesting garden visitors, and - of course - learn how to grow fabulous flowers and awesome veggies! Camp takes place on most Tuesdays throughout the growing season. For more information, call the PEBC at 507-662-5064.

Click here to view Garden Camp page

Wildlife Watching on the Web

Sunday, June 8

7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Fee: $3 members/$5 non-members

Who: Open to Adults & Families

The Web has become a wonderful place to observe wildlife from home.  The key is to know where to look.  Join a PEBC naturalist to learn about the many live-streaming nest, den and trail cameras available and the animals they record.  You will have the opportunity to explore artifacts of some of the numerous creatures featured on these cameras and will leave with new knowledge of the wild world just outside your door.

Nature 101

Monday, June 9

6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Fee: $3 members/$5 non-members

Who: Open to PreK-6th and their Adults

Get ready to tromp around and connect with nature in this fun exploration of the wilderness right outside your door!  Participants will learn all about the basics of the plants and animals found in Minnesota and ways to look for wildlife, tracks and even scat!  Wear walking shoes – we’ll be out in the park, weather permitting.

Creative Kids Art Camp

Wednesday & Thursday, June 11 & 12

10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. each day

Fee: $40 members/$50 non-members

Who: Open to Youth Grades 3-6

Calling all creative kids looking for an exciting camp to kick-off the summer season!  You’ll try all sorts of new art techniques and create several projects each day.  This activity packed summer camp will make use of nature’s own art materials and explore a wide range of creative techniques to bring out the artist in you!  Bring a sack lunch each day, dress for the weather and wear clothes that can get dirty – we’ll provide the rest!  Pre-registration required no later than June 1st.

Full Moon Hike

Friday, June 13

8:30 - 10:00 p.m.

Fee: $3 members/$5 non-members

Who: Open to All Ages

Ever wonder what that was crunching around outside as its getting dark?  If you dare join us on Friday the 13th, we’ll take a peek at Sparks Park under the pale light of a rising full moon to experience the sounds and signs of the park’s "night life."  Wear sturdy shoes and dress for the weather as we seek out our wild neighbors and learn how to hone our senses to better “see” them! 

Solar Lanterns

Saturday, June 21

9:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Fee: $10 members/$12 non-members

Who: Open to High School Youth to Adults

Tired of the plain old landscape lights to illuminate your yard?  Join a PEBC naturalist to make your very own solar lantern using materials easily found.  Once you learn the technique for making them, you can go crazy making oodles more to light your yard and lend a soft ambiance to your nightscape!   Pre-registration required by June 13th.

Awesome Acro-Bats!

Friday, June 27

6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Fee: $20 members/$25 non-members

Who: Open to Families & Adults

They’re not very handsome.  They live in dark places.  They can get into our houses.  Hhhmm - sounds spooky!  But these same critters are very helpful to humans and they can do something that no other mammal can do – fly!  Minnesota is home to seven types of awesome bats.  You’ll learn all about these beneficial animals and their role in our ecosystem, how to attract them to your backyard, explore bat artifacts, bat house designs and, and best of all – make a super-cool bat house to take home and hang in your backyard!   Pre-registration required no later than June 15th.  (Parents accompanying a child to help build a bat house attend free.)  Please bring cordless drill if you have one.

It's a Bug's World

Saturday, June 28

10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Fee: $3 members/$5 non-members

Who: Open to Youth PreK-6th & their Adults

Imagine you are a space explorer who has landed on another planet where the residents are tinier than your fingernail.  These creatures are creepy and they're crawly.  They fly and buzz in your ears.  Not only are they the tiniest – they are the coolest!  Of course we're talking about bugs.  Join a Prairie Ecology Bus Center naturalist to learn all about insects, go on a bug hunt and make a funny bug craft to take home! 

Blast Off To Fun!

Tuesday, July 1

1:00 - 2:30 p.m.

Fee: $8 members/$10 non-members

Who: Open to Youth Grades K-6

What do soda, Mentos, Alka-Seltzer, and film canisters have in common?  Find out through activities and experiments surrounding the world of Aerospace and Rocketry.  We will create our own fizzing, erupting, soaring fun and - weather willing, we’ll launch water rockets outside.  We’re gonna have a blast!

Water Olympics

Tuesday, July 8

6:00 - 7:30 p.m.

Fee: $5 members/$8 non-members

Who: Open to Youth Grades K-6

It's hot out!  What better time to learn fun stuff about water?  Through fun Olympic games and activities, you’ll explore our wild and not-so-wild water.  Dress for the weather – we’ll be outside - and be prepared to get a little soggy!

Plant Arts

Wednesday, July 9

6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Fee: $8 members/$12 non-members

Who: Open HighSchool Youth to Adults

Mother Nature inspires artists every day with her colors and shapes.  Explore your inner artist and make a bouquet inspired by items you find on a nature walk to be arranged in a mason jar vase with a frog lid that you will make.  Plus, you’ll learn how to make roses out of a maple leaves to compliment your bouquet!  All supplies included.

Creative Spirit Sip n' Paint

Tuesday, July 15

6:30 - 9:00 p.m.

Fee: $35

Who: Open to Adults

Bring your friends, have a glass of your favorite wine and get ready to amaze yourself!  Creative Spirits’ artists will guide you through the step by step process of recreating a beautiful painted masterpiece (photo of artwork to be posted by May 1st on Facebook and also on PEBC website: - click Programs, then Public Programs).  By the end of the evening you will have had a fabulous time and be able to take home a 16x20 work of art painted by you!  No experience necessary…amateurs strongly encouraged to attend.  All you need to do is bring your creative spirit and a beverage of choice and all other supplies are provided.  Pre-registration required no later than July 7th.  Sign up early - seats will fill up FAST!

Who Eats Who?

Wednesday, July 16

6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Fee: $3 members/$5 non-members

Who: Open to Youth Grades K-6th

It’s a predator-eat-prey world out there!  You gotta eat, and if you’re an animal there’s just so many delicious ways.  Some listen for the pitter-patter footsteps of their next mousey meal.  Some zero in for a sneak attack.  Others smell ‘em out, dig ‘em out or just plain out-run them.  Join a PEBC naturalist for a wild time as you become both predator and prey and learn just who is eating who through energetic games!

Kids Day at the Jackson County Fair

Wednesday, July 23

8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.


Who: Open to All Ages

Meet us at the fair for Kids Day and explore cool critters and take part in awesome activities with the Ecology Bus!

7th Annual Prairie Steak Fry

Monday, August 4

5:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Tickets Sold In Advance - call 662-5064. Full flyer coming soon!

Who: Everyone Welcome!

Join the PEBC as we celebrate 20 years of programming in 2014!  This fund-raiser/friend-raiser will highlight the PEBC’s history and growth through the years while enjoying a full steak dinner and lively auction activities throughout the evening.  Come celebrate with us!

Altered Animals

Saturday, August 9

9:30 - 11:00 a.m.


Who: Open to Youth Grades 3-6

Animals are freaks.  They have to be if they want to live!  The world can be a dangerous place and animals have all kinds of weird ways to survive.  Join us for this activity-filled program and see what it takes to make it in the wild.

Family Nature Play Day

Saturday, August 9

9:30 - 11:00 a.m.


Who: Open to Youth PreK-Grade 2 & their Adults

Want your family to be happier, healthier, and smarter? Then join the PEBC on this fun weekend morning where we’ll climb, run, dig, roll, and explore together in Sparks Park’s woods and prairie.  Studies indicate that children who play outdoors are more active, less stressed, build confidence, use their brain in more creative ways, and do better in school!  Plus, it’s FUN for all ages!  Dress for adventure and wear your play clothes.  Bring a picnic lunch (optional) for after the program.

Cartooning 101

Sunday, August 10

6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Fee: $5 members/$8 non-members

Who: Open to High School Youth to Adults

It's a funny world out there, however you look at it.  Cartooning is a great way to get your witty observations of life out of your system and onto paper.  You will learn the history and styles of a variety of cartoonists along with basic drawing techniques and will leave with a finished comic of your own creation.  No experience necessary.

A Step Back In Time

Monday, August 11

6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Fee: $10 members/$15 non-members

Who: Open to High School Youth to Adults

Ever wonder what it was like to have to make all the items that were important to everyday living?  We take for granted so many things in our lives, like the flip of a switch to turn on a light or, if we run out of butter or soap, we just make a trip to the store and buy more.  Homesteaders didn’t have such luxuries.  They had to dip candles for light, churn cream into butter, and make soap to wash themselves and their clothes - just to name a few of their regular tasks. Take a step back in time to learn how to make these daily items the old-fashioned way while sharing good company and gain a new appreciation for modern conveniences!  Participants will take home hand-made soap and candles.  All supplies included.

Ssssslithering Science of Snakes!

Wednesday, August 13

6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Fee: $5 members/$8 non-members

Who: Open to All Ages


When you mention snakes to people, many may think of scary, slimy creatures.  But snakes aren’t slimy at all!  Like most reptiles, they are covered with scales that keep them nice and dry.  They also protect them and help them move!  During this program you will learn to hear, see, eat, and breathe like a snake.  We’ll also debunk many of the myths surrounding these misunderstood animals as we explore little-known – but super cool – facts.  Each family will receive a booklet on MN snakes to take home. Families welcome!
Star Party

Friday, August 22

8:30 - 11:00 p.m.


Who: Open to Families and Adults

The PEBC Star Party will begin with a presentation at Sparks Park in Lakefield by 30-year amateur astronomer, Kevin Hlavac, a resident of Lakefield, and Dr. Paul Seifert, physics professor at MN West College in Worthington and star party veteran. You'll become familiar with some of the objects we will observe through telescopes, as well as, view photos and information on the telescopes at Mauna Kea in Hawaii and Kitt Peak near Tucson, Arizona. Following the indoor presentation, we will caravan to Sandy Point County Park where we will have a variety of telescopes with which to observe such astronomical objects as Saturn and Mars, the summer Milky Way, along with a variety of galaxies such as the Adromeda galaxy and various nebula and star clusters. Come and observe with us!


You can download the full schedule and program descriptions here:

Download current June-August Program Schedule (word file)



Pre-registration is required for all programs a minimum of two business days prior to program unless otherwise noted. Programs will cancel if minimum enrollment has not been met by the registration deadline. Please help us ensure the success of these programs by registering ahead of time. Please call 507.662.5064 or send an email to:

Class fee is payable at the time of the program unless otherwise noted. To send pre-payments, please mail checks to PEBC, PO Box 429, Lakefield, MN 56150. Interested in becoming a member and receive program discounts? Membership information is available at the PEBC office or online.

Report any website problems to:
Prairie Ecology Bus Center