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home : sports / outdoors : sports/outdoors Monday, March 25, 2019

6/21/2017 4:39:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
National Get Outdoors Day

By Deborah Locke

Afton Beach
Whitewater State Park
No one ever needs to encourage a Hmong family to go outdoors in the summertime; not after all those centuries of farming, hunting and fishing in the old country - traditions carried forward in Minnesota. The outdoors is a part of the people's long history and culture.

Still, there's a big incentive to go outdoors, with a particular destination in mind on June 10, 2017. It is National Get Outdoors Day, and admission to all of Minnesota's 75 state parks and recreational areas is free.

That means you can drive a little ways in the metro area and attend a program and have a picnic without paying the $5 daily pass fee, or drive a distance and do the same. For a map of Minnesota's parks, go to mndnr.gov/parkfinder. Nearly 40 programs are offered statewide, from music concerts to trout fishing to lessons about reptiles.

The purpose for National Get Outdoors Day is to encourage first-time visitors to become aware of the opportunities that parks offer, and to reconnect youth with the great outdoors. Maybe as a parent you are a little alarmed with the amount of time your children devote to their cell phones. Guess what? The kids can apply their technical skill to a park program. William O'Brien State Park offers "Geocaching 101 - Call of the Wildflowers." (10:30 a.m.) Participants can use a GPS unit in search of specially placed caches.

What about a ride to the Upper Sioux Agency State Park at 9 p.m. for a "Stargazing" program where you'll view basic summer constellations including Jupiter, Mars and Saturn?

"We'd love to see hundreds of children and their parents outdoors on June 10," said Erika Rivers, Parks and Trails Director for the Department of Natural Resources. "Maybe you will want to stop in for an hour-long program and then decide to stay for the day."

There's lots to choose from. In the metro area, musically-inclined families might want to catch the Bluegrass music concert at Afton State Park near Hastings (6:30 p.m.). Fort Snelling State Park near the airport offers an introductory "Becoming an Outdoors Woman" program that includes a hike. (9 a.m.) You can learn about outdoor painting on the shores of the St. Croix River at Interstate State Park near Taylors Falls (9 a.m., weather permitting).

The more adventurous may wish to join the group effort to paddle every mile of the Minnesota River in one day. Or learn about the sky's fierce hunters - hawks, eagles and owls - at Wild River State Park near Center City (2 p.m.). Check out the animals in the "Zoomobile" at Minneopa State Park near Mankato (1 p.m.). For a listing of more than 30 additional activities throughout Minnesota state parks on June 10, go to www.mndnr.gov/ptcalendar.

Still unsure about Get Outdoors Day at a state park? Consider your history. For centuries the Hmong adjusted to every environment where they lived as a hunting and gathering people. They knew their way globally around a forest, lake or plain. That means a natural affinity for Minnesota's terrain, especially that of southeastern Minnesota with its rolling bluffs that are reminiscent of southeastern Asia.

The Hmong came from an outdoor culture, and the great outdoors is an important part of their heritage and tradition. Learn about a new outdoor activity on June 10. Take your kids and your brother's kids, a lunch and sunscreen and water. The park's arms are wide open to welcome you.

St. Paul, MN



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