Public Programs

The Prairie in the Fall

Photo by Scott Sharkey

Registration is required for events marked with an asterisk (*).  Programs and events may be cancelled due to inclement weather.  For more information, call 952-854-5900.  

  • Visitor Center Hours

    Regular hours at the Bloomington Education and Visitor Center are: 

    • June - August: Tuesday-Sunday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.  
    • September - May:  Wednesday-Sunday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.  

    The Rapids Lake Education Center is closed during the summer and open to the public and school groups starting September 4, Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.  

  • "Bee The Change" Event

    Bloomington Education and Visitor Center 
    Saturday, October 13, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
    3815 American Blvd. East Bloomington, MN 55425 

    Please join us for a day of free educational programming about the Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee, a vital pollinator in the Midwest. 

    Come to hear from entomology experts from the University of MN about the importance of pollinators, watch the Xerxes Society film “A Ghost in the Making”, learn tips on how to prepare your yard and install your own pollinator garden, and enjoy a reading of an original children’s book by the author Bella Rubietta. 

    We'll also have some take-and-make crafts, and the first 50 Girl Scouts in attendance will receive a free patch!

    Schedule of the day's drop-in programs:
    • 11:00 am: Xerxes Society Film “A Ghost in the Making” (Edward S. Crozier Auditorium)
    • 11:30 am-12:00 pm: Elaine Evans, PhD, Department of Entomology, University of MN Pollinator Lecture (Edward S. Crozier Auditorium)
    • 12:30 pm: Children’s Book Reading (Hearth Room)
    • 1:00-1:30 pm: Michelle Boone, Graduate Research Assistant, Entomology Department, University of MN Pollinator Lecture (Edward S. Crozier Auditorium)
    • 1:45 pm: Dan Forrest, Certified Master Gardener Lecture (Edward S Crozier Auditorium)
    • 2:30 pm: Children’s Book Reading (Hearth Room)
    • 3:00 pm: Xerxes Society Film “A Ghost in the Making” (Edward S. Crozier Auditorium)

    This program was created by Bella Rubietta for requirements to complete her Gold Award.

  • *Workshops: Bird Language

    Multiple dates (First Saturday of the month, unless otherwise noted): 

    Saturday, October 6; Saturday, November 3; Saturday, December 1; Saturday January 5

    9:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
    Bloomington Education and Visitor Center, Classroom A
    3815 American Blvd. East, Bloomington, MN  

    Want to learn more about birds and their behavior?  Wonder what they're chirping about, or why they suddenly fall silent?  Join Volunteer Refuge Naturalists Jonathon Poppele and Donnie Phyllaier for this special workshop series to learn more!

    Workshops meet at the Bloomington Education and Visitor Center indoors for discussion, and will head outside for observations and more learning.  Bring a notebook, pencils, and something to sit on outdoors.  Be sure to dress for the weather!

    Registration encouraged via http://www.mntracking.org, or via Facebook.

  • Workshops: Tech Nature

    Multiple dates:

    Saturday, November 3; Saturday, December 15; Saturday, January 1; Saturday, February 16

    1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
    Bloomington Education and Visitor Center, Auditorium

    3815 American Blvd. East, Bloomington, MN

    There are a multitude of apps available for smartphones and tablets specifically created for enjoying nature or engaging in citizen science projects.  If you're wondering what they are, and how to use them, join U.S. Park Service Park Ranger, and local bird expert "Birdchick", Sharon Stiteler to learn together.  

    Bring your smartphone or tablet, and dress for venturing outdoors to try things out.

    Registration encouraged via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/308216793292413/

  • Outing: Bird Walks at Bass Ponds

    Multiple dates:

    Sunday, October 14; Saturday, October 27; Monday, October 29

    8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
    Bass Ponds Trails at the Longmeadow Lake Unit of Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

    2501 86th Street East, Bloomington, MN 55425

    Join us for a bird walk at the Bass Ponds trails of the Longmeadow Lake unit of Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Learn about some of the 220 species that stop during their migration south! 

    Birders of all levels are welcome to join! Bring along binoculars, and a field guide if you have one. Please dress for the weather, as the walks will be outside for the duration.

    Meet at the Bass Ponds trailhead:

    2501 86th St. E, Bloomington, MN 55425

    Walks led by Refuge volunteer naturalist Craig Mandel

  • Celebrating Wildlife in the City

    Saturday, October 27  

    10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    Bloomington Education and Visitor Center
    3815 American Blvd. East, Bloomington, MN  

    Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge provides a home to wildlife and place of tranquility for humans. On Saturday, October 27, the refuge will host the free Celebrating Wildlife in the City event from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Bloomington Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd. East.

    River otters, wild turkey, hawks, eagles, bats, muskrats, and so many more animals live close to the millions of Twin Cities metro area residents. The event will celebrate the variety wildlife living in the urban landscape and share how wildlife refuges provide a home for resident and migrating animals.

    Activities held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. will include:

    • Building bat houses, educational exhibits, and presentations to celebrate international Bat Week

    • Bird banding with refuge biologists

    • Exploring the monarch butterfly art shanty, transporting visitors to the oyamel fir forest of Mexico where monarch butterflies spend the winter

    • Leaf paint printing, a make and take craft for kids

    • Urban wildlife photo booth

    • Native American Stories performed by the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater at 10 a.m.

    • Wildlife Costume Parade at 11 a.m.


    The Wildlife Costume Parade will march through the visitor center and out into the forest at 11 a.m. Participants should arrive by 10:30 a.m. to line up. Participation is free, and anyone with a costume will receive a free coloring poster featuring Minnesota wildlife.

    For more information, call Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge at 952-858-5900

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to providing access to this event for all participants. Please direct all requests for sign language interpreting services, closed captioning, or other accommodation needs to Cortney Solum at Cortney_Solum@fws.gov with your request by close of business on October 19.

  • Sunset Photo Hike

    Saturday, November 3    

    3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
    Bloomington Education and Visitor Center
    3815 American Blvd. East, Bloomington, MN  

    Join us for this annual favorite, as we capture the setting sun over the refuge. We'll hike to a perfect location to capture the sun as it sets over the grasses which will be showing their full fall color. As we head down the trail, we will also experiment with capturing sun bursts through the trees, and some long shadow landscapes.

    Bring a tripod to help with long exposures.

    Photo programs are led by Don Tredinnick,   https://www.frozenhiker.com/photo-hikes