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 Wednesday-Sunday from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. September 4-May 31. 

    Regular hours at the Rapids Lake Education and Visitor Center are Tuesday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. from September 19 to May 31.

  • Weekly Programs with a Ranger

    Fridays and Saturdays
    Ranger Chat 10 a.m. 
    Nature Walks with a Ranger 1 p.m.
    Bloomington Visitor Center

    We will hold Ranger Chats at 10 a.m. and ½ mile Nature Walks with a Ranger at 1 p.m.each Friday and Saturday through March at the Bloomington Visitor Center. Each week will focus on a different topic to explore what wildlife are experiencing on Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

    These programs are fun for all ages. Kids are welcome to join in.

  • Bird Language

    Saturday, October 7
    Saturday, November 4
    Saturday, December 2
    Saturday, January 6
    Saturday, February 3
    Saturday, March 3
    Saturday, April 7
    Saturday, June 2
    Saturday, July 7
    Saturday, August 4
    Saturday, September 1

    9 a.m.–1 p.m.
    Bloomington Education and Visitor Center (Classroom A)  

    Join us as we gather on the slopes of the Minnesota River Valley to explore what the birds are telling us about our surroundings. We will split the time between the classroom and outdoors. Bring a notebook, pencils, and something to sit on outdoors. To register, visit:

    Led by Jonathon Poppele and Donnie Phyillaier, Volunteer Refuge Naturalists


  • Tech Nature

    Saturday, December 9
    Saturday, January 6
    Saturday, February 24
    Saturday, March 17
    1-3 p.m. 
    Bloomington Education and Visitor Center (Auditorium)   

     There are a million apps available for smartphones and now there are many apps specifically for enjoying nature or engaging in citizen science projects. Join Ranger Sharon to learn more about how to find and identify wildlife, report your sightings and even take pictures and video- all with the amazing smartphone in your pocket. 

    National Park Service Ranger Sharon Stiteler

  • Bird Watching Treks at Bass Ponds

    Sunday, March 4
    Monday, March 12
    Saturday, March 17
    Monday, March 19
    Saturday, March 24 
    Monday, March 26
    Monday, April 2
    Sunday, April 8
    Tuesday, April 10 

    8-10 a.m.
    Bass Ponds Trailhead

    Join volunteer Refuge naturalist Craig Mandel for a bird walk at the Bass Ponds Trailhead to learn about the birds that migrate to and through the wildlife refuge. During these walks Craig will help you search for migrating waterfowl and raptors. The group may also see some early spring migrants with a mix of sparrows and the first yellow-rumped warblers of the season on the later walks. Birder's of all skill levels are welcome on these walks. Bring along your binoculars, favorite field guide and dress appropriately for the weather. 

    The Bass Ponds Trailhead is located at 2501 86th St. East, 55425. Just south of the Mall of America; follow 24th Street/Old Shakopee Rd south past the Mall, turn east on 86th Street, and turn left at the Bass Ponds sign at the stoplight.

  • Artist Talk

    Saturday, March 24
    9:30am - 12:30pm

    Join the Outdoor Painters of Minnesota and a local artist of note for this artist talk and landscape painting demonstration. Members of Outdoor Painters of Minnesota will be painting outdoors in the wildlife refuge in the afternoon.  Feel free to look for painters and watch them at work!

  • Project Learning Tree Workshop

    Saturday, March 24
    9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
    Bloomington Education and Visitor Center

    This workshop is designed for teachers and educators of students in grades K-8.

    Project Learning Tree uses trees, forests, and the environment as a window to the world to teach math, science, language arts, social studies, and art. Fun, engaging activities are correlated to Minnesota academic standards and the Common Core for ELA and math.

    Participants get:


    • Hands-on instruction
    • PLT K-8 Activity Guide with 96 lessons
    • 6 CEUs
    • Many supplemental resources from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.


    Cost: FREE for St. Paul Public School teachers and others who use the Como Woodlands Outdoor Classroom; $20 for all others (Sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service).

    Register here.

    This workshop is sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service for educators who use the Como Woodlands Outdoor Classroom.

  • Community Engagement: Guidelines for Excellence Train-the-Trainer Workshop

    Wednesday, April 18
    9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
    Bloomington Education and Visitor Center
    13815 American Blvd. East, Bloomington, MN

    Community Engagement: Guidelines for Excellence Workshop will be held at the refuge's Bloomington Education and Visitor Center on April 18 from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. followed by Creating Transgender Inclusive Environments from 6-8 p.m. (see below)

    At this workshop instructors from Antioch University will introduce the structure and history of the community engagement guidelines developed by the National Association for Environmental Education before diving in to explore and engage in each section of the guidelines. Discuss how you can design your own workshop, make professional connections and identify opportunities for engagement.

    This workshop is great for environmental education professionals, K-12 classroom teachers and administrators, college/university faculty, and community liaisons working in environmental education or related field. Participants must commit to facilitating at least one workshop for other educators within the year focusing on Community Engagement Guidelines.

    This workshop is free and includes a copy of the guidelines and lunch.

    Participants must apply to attend by April 4 using an online form found at

    Direct questions to

  • Creating Transgender Inclusive Environments

    Wednesday, April 18
    6-8 p.m.
    Bloomington Education and Visitor Center
    13815 American Blvd. East, Bloomington, MN

    Many people want to create more inclusive environments for people of all genders, including transgender & gender non-conforming individuals, but aren’t sure where to start.

    Please join LGBTQ educator and social justice facilitator Meg Bolger from The Venture Out Project for a workshop focused on gaining foundational knowledge about how outdoor and environmental educators can create trans-inclusive environments and programming.

    Participants will explore terminology, gendered language, and ways to create more affirming policies and practices for people of all genders including trans and gnc individuals. 

    No prior understanding of transgender issues necessary.

    To register go to:

    For questions, email

    This event is free.

  • Spring Photo Hike at Rapids Lake

    Saturday, May 5
    8-10 a.m.
    Rapids Lake Education Center, 15865 Carver Highlands Dr, Carver MN

    May is a great time to find spring ephemerals, and the Rapids Lake Unit produces a number of different flowers in the spring. With some luck the group may find basque flowers, dutchman's breeches, various types of violets, and blood wort. 

    Meet in the parking lot at the Rapids Lake Education Center. The group will either make head down the trail or trek up to the top of the bluff. 

    Bring bug spray, sturdy footwear, and long pants (this will be prime tick season).

    This program will be led by Photographer and volunteer Don Tredinnick.

    For more information visit: