Steve Gardiner taught high school English and journalism for 38 years in Montana and Wyoming. He started working at the Republican Eagle in May 2018. He focuses on features and outdoor stories.
- Member for
- 1 year 1 month
With severe weather season fast approaching, hundreds of Minnesotans have become trained storm spotters to assist the National Weather Service in gathering accurate weather data so the NWS can provide weather watches and warnings as needed. "Storm spotters are important, because their reports provide the real time account of what is actually happening," said Donna Dubberke, meteorologist at the National Weather Service forecast office in La Crosse, Wis. "It is part of what we call the integrated warning process."
The summer traditionally offers the highest chance of severe weather in southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin, and the past year has been a busy one for weather watchers. "We had all kinds of severe weather," said Donna Dubberke, meteorologist at the National Weather Service forecast office in La Crosse, Wis. "We had tornados. We had flooding. We had extreme winter weather. You name it, we had it." She noted that May, June, and July are the peak months for severe weather, with June being the prime month. Weather, however, can be unpredictable.
Many human beings watch an eagle or hawk soaring on the wind with a bit of envy, a feeling that likely inspired glider planes like those at the Stanton Airfield southwest of Cannon Falls, Minn. When the weather is right, some weekends will find "a dozen gliders lined up. Everybody wants to be up when the sky gets cooking," said Tom Kuhfeld, volunteer at the Stanton Airfield. "They want to fly, so we often have two tow planes going."
When the Minnesota Department of Education released the graduation rates for 2018 on Tuesday, April 23, there were two pieces of good news. First, the state's graduation rate was the highest it has ever been. "I am proud to announce that more Minnesota seniors than ever before graduated in 2018 with 55,869 students graduating," said Commissioner of Education Mary Cathryn Ricker. "That is 83.2% of the graduating class overall, making it the state's highest rate on record."
One of the biggest attractions at Kinnickinnic State Park west of River Falls is the Kinnickinnic River Delta, which extends more than half the width of the St. Croix River, offering extensive sand beaches. "It is primarily boat use, so that is a big draw in the summertime when people are coming in to Kinni with their boats via the St. Croix," said Aaron Mason, park superintendent. "They camp on the delta. It is pretty common on weekends to have several hundred boats down there, so it can be really busy on the water in the summertime."
More than 122,000 teachers from all 50 states have stepped up to the challenge of achieving national board certification, a peer-reviewed process leading to recognition as an accomplished teacher. Mike Yell, a seventh grade social studies teacher at Hudson Middle School, completed certification in 2003 and renewed his certificate in 2013. The Wisconsin educator said he would "strongly recommend national board certification to teachers wishing to take on a rigorous growth challenge that will ultimately improve their practice."
One goal that Mary Cathryn Ricker has at the Minnesota Department of Education is to "reinvigorate" the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards work that is going on in the state. "At one time, Minnesota was one of the state leaders in creating pathways for board certification for our teachers," she said. "Over time, that has waned quite a bit."
Housed in a simple brick building in downtown Houston, Minn., the International Owl Center is filled with information about and enthusiasm for owls. Executive Director Karla Bloem wears a shirt that says, "Making the world a better place for owls." She works hard to support that mission. "Humans are the biggest problem for owls," Bloem said. "Not necessarily directly killing them, but inadvertently killing them." She explained that when humans use poisons for rodent control, the rodents eat the poisons, then the owls eat the rodents.
When Gov. Tim Walz appointed Mary Cathryn Ricker as the Minnesota commissioner of education, he knew her background and passion would make her the right person for the job. The Minnesota Senate agreed and confirmed her.
A disease known as white nose syndrome - WNS - is proving deadly to Minnesota's four species of cave bats. The disease is caused by a fungus called pseudogymnoascus destructans, and infected bats often have a white fungus growing on their wings and muzzle which gives the disease its name. "White nose syndrome affects bats because of their unique lifestyle," said Melissa Boman of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "It is caused by a fungus that originated in Europe."