Art Straub -
An Educator for Life

The Minnesota River and Valley have been a part of the lives of my wife Barbara and myself all of our sixty-two years. Our ancestors settled in the valley 140 years ago, and Barbara and I are caretakers of two hundred of the acres on which they settled. Thus our great-grandparents, grandparents, parents and many other relatives were fed by the river, both physically and spiritually, as well as using the river for recreation and transportation. 

Both of us grew up in LeSueur, attended the same elementary and high schools, and graduated with elementary education degrees some forty years ago from Mankato State College. (Sounds boring, but there were other diversions along the way.) My M.S. is in elementary administration, but we have hundreds of credits in all kinds of interest areas, especially the environment, music and theology. (I am an ordained Roman Catholic minister.) 

During our first year of teaching we noted that the majority of elementary children, while avidly interested in nature, were often unaware of the names and habitats of the simplest creatures sharing their world space. Thus it has been our special thrust to educate little folk to their fellow (and gal) flora and fauna. 

Having grown up on the Minnesota River and observing the abuses we as a society have heaped on this fantastic natural resource, we are overjoyed with the recent interest by persons and high places to reclaim the legacy, to protect and preserve that which we have neglected for so long. For many years we were voices crying in the wilderness, our pleas falling on deaf ears. The past five years in particular have filled us with hope. 

Our own personal efforts included participation in the Earth Sabbath Team efforts out of Good Council Convent in Mankato; serving on the committees building the Ney Environmental Center near Henderson; writing a SNAP Grant through St. Olaf College which enabled us to begin a school Nature Center at Hilltop School in Henderson; development of a summer school program for elementary age students called "Nature Neighbors" which has concluded its eight year; conducting nature tours and programs on our property for interested youth and adults (more than 400 participants again this year); conducting workshops and programs for local Community Education facilities; writing a weekly column for the local newspaper; but most importantly, attempting to raise the environmental awareness of the adults we work with and the wonderful children we teach. 

On a very personal level, we have committed our acreage to the Friends of the Minnesota River Valley, one hundred seventy-five acres will remain forest habitat forever we hope, and the remaining acres will be put into native prairie grasses next summer...returning all of our land to its original state. This will be a lifelong dream come true! 

None of the above is meant to boast, this is where the Great Spirit has guided us thus far, who knows what is around the next corner? 

We make no claim of expertise in any regard, are CONTINUALLY experiencing new adventures on a daily basis. There is so much for us to learn while we have the years. 

Check out Art's articles
A Summer of Strange Sightings
River Vandals
A Photographic Walk Along the Minnesota River

Center for Global Environmental Education
Hamline University Graduate School of Education
1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104-1284
Phone: 651-523-2480 Fax: 651-523-2987
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