Earth Day in the Willmar Lakes Area

By Bailey Hovland

“Reduce, reuse, recycle.”
“Buy local.”
“Go paperless—save the trees.”

We hear and see these phrases often, whether they’re printed on recycling bins or featured in area coffee shops to support local commerce. Perhaps we even use them as daily mantras, pushing

Just one of the many insects you can find in the warmer months out at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, home to many of Minnesota’s critters (photo courtesy of Prairie Woods).

ourselves to take care of our planet, and in doing so, each other. But how often do we invest in learning about our environment, taking new steps to conserve energy and resources and move away from our habits that can be harmful to the Earth? How much time do we dedicate to being outdoors and working to become better inhabitants of our planet?

Usually, only on Earth Day.

This year, Earth Day falls on Sunday, April 22. And the Willmar Lakes Area plans to celebrate accordingly. Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center is hosting an Earth Day celebration this coming Saturday, April 21, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The event is free, offering activities throughout the day designed to help you engage with the Earth and discover new ways to “green” up your everyday life. From 8:00-10:00 a.m., there will be a free-will donation pancake and sausage breakfast, a great way to eat a hearty meal before all the activities Prairie Woods has in store. Bruce the Bug Guy will be arriving at 10:00 a.m. to host a live insect experience, bringing a few critters to tag along and meet some human friends. MN Soil and Water District will be providing free nitrate testing for visitors if they bring a sample of home tap water in a clean glass jar.

This reusable travel mug is perfect for running errands, taking an early morning walk, or any other activity where you’d love a strong cup of coffee (photo courtesy of LuLu Beans Coffee House)

There is something for everyone at this event. Hands-on learning activities will include nature art by Demo, Inc., Little Crow Anglers minnow races & casting practice, master gardeners, and a DNR Fish Tank and Laser Shot. Plus, Prairie Woods will be handing out free trees, featuring a live hawk, opening their indoor climbing wall, and organizing a nature scavenger hunt. If you want to celebrate Earth Day the right way, you’ll come on out to Prairie Woods this Saturday to have a mean, green time.


You can also visit Sibley State Park on your own to spend some good, quality time with the land and all it has to offer. Go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing out on the trails, keeping a close watch for the white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, and red and grey foxes known to live around the park. And although we have gotten plenty of snow over the weekend, there’s plenty of things to do that aren’t outdoorsy activities. Invest in a reusable water bottle or thermos from one of our many local businesses. Shop for your new spring look at used clothing stores, like Goodwill and New To You. Use reusable bags to load up on groceries, skipping the decision of plastic or paper altogether. Spend your money on local foods at local businesses, eliminating the pollution of shipping and supporting our local community.

Earth Day comes and goes every year, romping in with vibrant energy and leaving as suddenly as it arrived. But these suggestions about how to celebrate Earth Day are not only applicable to one day in April. These are things (with the exception of Prairie Woods’ event) that you can do 365 days a year, honoring the planet we live on and the plants and animals and people we share it with. There are plenty of ways to make green choices to celebrate Earth Day, and we cannot wait to try a few (or all of them) out this next week, as well as throughout the rest of the year.

Fish our lakes

The possibilities are endless on our 30 recreational lakes…boating, swimming, fishing, water skiing, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boating, hydro biking, paddle boarding and so much more!

Fishing Report

Explore our Trails

Surrounded by beautiful lakes and scenery…who wouldn’t take a hike or a leisurely bike ride to enjoy the view? With miles of trials to choose from, you can always find new places to explore.

Trail Report