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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

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!

4-H Day Camp

Thursday, July 31

1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Who: Ages K-5

Prairie Ecology Bus Center will be hosting a four hour 4-H Day Camp at Sparks Park on July 31.
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!


Project Bluestem Teacher Workshop

Friday & Saturday

August 8: 1 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

August 9: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cost: $115 includes curriculum materials and lunch on Saturday. Graduate credit optional (thru Hamline University) for additional cost.

Click here for Registration Form




Prairies offer one of our most spectacular ecosystems in southern Minnesota and are a wealth of learning opportunities! Discover your prairie heritage through this exciting educator workshop and learn how to bring the prairies into your educational setting or even take your students to a prairie and teach outdoors! Participants travel on the Ecology Bus to a nearby prairie for first-hand experiences in the field. Learn how to identify common prairie plants and animals and discover a variety of ways you can explore prairies through demonstrations, games, and hands-on activities. The curriculum of K-12 interdisciplinary prairie activities is an asset for any school in the region.

12 CEUs provided for attending

Workshop Location: Lakefield Community Learning Center at Sparks County Park, Lakefield, MN

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)

Download shortened pdf program schedule



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