Big River Big Woods Wild Ones

On this pageMeeting scheduleDesign with Nature 2018Trilliums,  Crow-Hassan Park Reserve TourKeller Golf Course Native Garden TourMinnesota Wildflowers Garden TourVolunteer,  Board Minutes

Monthly Meetings

Our meetings are free and open to the public.  
We hold our meetings on the fourth Thursday of the month, except for the following:

No meeting in December or February.  (The Design with Nature Conference takes the place
of the February meeting.)

During the summer months (June, July and August) we provide several tour opportunities, occurring on various days of the week. Tour descriptions and dates and times will be announced on this website as they become available.

Our meetings start with social time between 6:30 and 7 p.m.  From 7 to 8:30 p.m. we have the educational portion of the meeting.  We meet at Autumn Grove Park, 1365 Lydia Avenue West, Roseville, MN  Map

Meeting Schedule


March 22, 2018

Three Rivers Park District and Natural Resource Management
presented by John Moriarty, Senior Manager of Wildlife
6:30 p.m  – 8:30 p.m.
at Lexington Park Rec Building, Roseville map


John Moriarty will talk about Three Rivers Park District  and Natural  Resource Management.  The presentation will highlight the work that Park District has been doing for the last 50 years on its 26,000 acres.   The Park District has 3 sections in their Natural Resources Department covering Water Quality, Forestry and Horticulture, and Wildlife.  The work of each section will be covered with a detailed look at the prairie management and wildlife restoration projects.

John Moriarty is the Senior Manager of Wildlife at Three Rivers Park District.  He has been with the District for 15 years, in two different stints.  John has been working on Urban habitat restoration and management of 30 years.  He has help create large prairies in several of the District’s park reserves and worked to reintroduce a number of wildlife species.

April 26, 2018


Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants
presented by Anne Sawyer
6:30 p.m  – 8:30 p.m.
at Autumn Grove Park, Roseville map

photo of anne sawyer

Anne Sawyer. Photo taken October of 2015 by Stacy Nordstrom.

Soil! It’s so much more than dirt, and more interesting than you ever imagined… really! In this talk, you’ll learn all about the ‘magic’ of soil and understand why a healthy soil makes for healthy plants. Plus, we’ll discuss garden soil maintenance tips and smart fertilizer use. Come with questions!

Anne Sawyer recently completed her Ph.D. in   Soil Science at the University of Minnesota. Anne has a small hobby farm in Northfield where she and her husband grow organic veggies, keep egg chickens and raise pigs. She’s a U of MN Extension Master Gardener in Rice County and a member of the Rice County Extension Advisory Committee. 




May 24, 2018

luna moth

Tips for Discovering Biodiversity in your Backyard
presented by Larissa and Erik Mottl
6:30 p.m  – 8:30 p.m.
at Autumn Grove Park, Roseville map

As ecologists and parents of two kids in elementary school, the Mottls have practiced many simple, inexpensive ways to foster curiosity about our natural world. They’ll present some of the best tools for discovering and observing a variety of wildlife in your backyard. Discovering and raising silk moths, finding caterpillars with “tiny faces”, and observing fairy shrimp from a healthy wetland are a few of the highlights they’ll share from their backyard in Forest Lake.


Big River Big Woods Chapter volunteers assisted with the book sale this year.


trillium photos by Karen Eckman

photos by Karen Eckman

photo by Karen Eckman


Crow-Hassan Park Reserve Native Prairie Tour

John Moriarty explains prairie life to the group.

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve in western Hennepin County contains about 1600 acres of prairie habitat.  On Saturday, August 19, John Moriarty, Senior Manager of Wildlife, Three Rivers Park District, led 18 of us through the prairie.  He explained that the park was originally part of the Big Woods.  It was converted into farmland and was used to grow crops for generations.  In the sixties the park district began converting it to prairie.  Mr. Moriarty was clear that this beautiful area is the attempted replication of a prairie.  One of the highlights of our visit was a large planting of liatris ligulistylis (meadow blazing star) covered in Monarch butterflies.   Our Facebook page has more photos of our time there.

Keller Golf Course Native Garden Tour

Keller Golf Course Tour photos

Paul Diegnau and Simba Blood describing Keller Golf Course native landscaping, touring on golf carts, interpretive signage. (Photos by Carol Crowe & Eva Ekola)

What, you may ask, were 20 non-golfers doing zipping around Keller Golf Course on their golf carts Thursday evening?

We were participating in a guided tour led by Paul Diegnau, Golf Course Superintendent, and Simba Blood, Natural Resources Technician with the Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District (RWMWD). Paul and Simba explained how the two organizations developed a partnership to landscape Keller Golf Course with native plants.

Since 1996 Paul has been working to reduce as much as possible the course’s impact on the environment, especially on the Phalen Chain of Lakes. In 2013 and 2014 the Watershed District and Ramsey County received grants to restore a total of 14 acres. It was our privilege to view these restorations in prairie, pond and wetland areas. We all agreed that Keller Golf Course and RWMWD have done a spectacular job.

For a more complete explanation and lots more photos, visit Keller Project.

Volunteer for one of our Service Projects

Our projects are on hiatus until spring.  Check this space to find out when they become active.

Roseville Library Children’s Reading Garden
2180 North Hamline Avenue, Roseville

Join us to help with the children’s reading garden. This outdoor area is framed by natural plantings and includes a rain garden as well as a natural prairie. The garden is used frequently by families with young children who enjoy the fenced in area to safely play outdoors while visiting the library.

Schedule (Rain or shine):
Tuesdays, 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Bring gloves and hand tools if possible.  Beginners and experts are welcome!

Project Leader:
Nicole Brinkman, 651-724-6032,

For more information, download the flyer.

Island Lake Elementary Butterfly Garden
Island Lake Elementary School, 3555 Victoria Street N, Shoreview

Enjoy time with your kindred spirits while you help restore and maintain a 5-year-old patch of native prairie.

This 36′ x 36′ Eagle Scout project had suffered several years of neglect  until Augusts 21st last year when our Wild Ones Chapter took it on. 

Schedule (Rain or shine – except lightning):
Tuesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon
Come when you can.  Leave when you need to.  Bring water, gloves, and favorite weeding tool(s).

Project Leader:
Karen Eckman, home – 651-483-8460, cell – 651-260-8534,

For more information, download the flyer.

Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom
1199 Midway Pkwy, St. Paul

Our chapter has “adopted” a parcel in Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom (CWOC) – in the Oak Woodland section.   We will tackle invasive species and nurture native plant communities in Como Park.  We are doing this for the EcoSteward Work Days of the St. Paul Parks.

Saturdays, 2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. 
May 27, June 10, June 24, July 8, July 22, August 5, August 19, September 9, September 23, October 14.
Tools are on site, but dress to work in the woods (pants + sox + close-toed shoes) and we suggest bringing gloves and water.

Project Leader:
Judi Petkau, 612-578-7385.

For more information, download the flyer.

If you have suggestions for other projects in the East Twin Cities Metro area please send your suggestions to  Let us know if an evening gardening time would work better for you and which day and time. Everyone welcome

Minnesota Wildflowers Garden Tour

Peter giving the tour. (Photo by Carol Crowe)

Combine perfect weather and perfect hosts and you will have a sense of what the tour of Minnesota Wildflowers gardens was like Sunday afternoon. Peter Dziuk guided 40 Wild Ones members and guests through his and Katy Chayka’s extensive native gardens. It’s hard to believe that so much variety can be contained in one suburban lot. Peter and Katy travel the state searching its remotest corners to photograph rare native plants for their excellent web site, Sometimes they are able to obtain seed which they bring back home and plant in hopes that the specimen will thrive so it can be photographed for the web site. This was a very educational garden tour. Thanks to Peter and Katy for their generosity in sharing their time and knowledge with us.

Poke Milkweed (Photo by Carol Crowe)


The Big River Big Woods Board of Directors meets monthly, usually on the second Tuesday of the month.  This year our Board’s officers are Eva Ekola, President; Liz Wendland, Vice President; Carol Crowe, Secretary; Leanne Phinney, Treasurer.  Erica Tenbroek is our Projects Coordinator. Judi Petkau is our Merchandise Coordinator.  Joe Crowe is our Webmaster.  Look in this space for our most recent minutes.

November, 2017

October, 2017

August, 2017

June, 2017

May, 2017

April, 2017