Southwestern Minnesota – Bison, Butterflies, & Belays: A Prairie EdVenture


“The prairie, in all its expressions, is a massive, subtle place, with a long history of contradiction and misunderstanding.  But it is worth the effort at comprehension.  It is, after all, at the center of our national identity.”
– Wayne Fields

Join a Minnesota Zoo naturalist and the Voyageur Outward Bound School for an unforgettable weekend of adventure, exploring one of our state’s defining ecosystems: the beautiful, complex prairie.

This is a learning expedition like no other, as you unplug and explore the prairie biome of Blue Mounds State Park with naturalists, researchers and experiential educators. You’ll learn how to rock climb on the state park’s beautiful cliffs, camp out and eat meals under the stars, hike, and get special tours to see the park’s wild bison up close. You’ll also participate in a service learning project, contributing to the health of the ecosystem through hands-on work.

Nature-based challenge and adventure learning provides an opportunity to deepen environmental understanding and grow community. Discover how plants and animals co-exist and adapt as you and your fellow participants learn to survive and function as a successful team.

“Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons.  It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.”
– Walt Whitman

Experiential learning: Learn by doing. We’ll cook, camp, hike, and play right in the park. We’ll get up close and personal with the Blue Mounds bison; learn to rock climb on a historic Sioux Quartzite buffalo jump; and contribute to prairie conservation.  Zoo and DNR naturalists lead hands-on nature exploration and Outward Bound Instructors facilitate exciting group adventures for skill development and learning that transfers to life and career.

Rock Climbing 101: Rock climbing is an area of focus on this Expedition and provides a wonderful opportunity to develop essential personal skills. Observing and communicating with accuracy are central to safety and success while climbing. This trip is perfect for people who have never climbed before and maybe never thought they could, but will also be a lot of fun for people with some climbing experience already under their belts.

No experience necessary! Curiosity and enthusiasm suggested. This will be a hands-on expedition with many opportunities to learn and lead. Participants are encouraged to embrace new challenges and support the expedition crew with compassion and inclusion; you will learn and lead with a crew of peers. Learn new camping, hiking, and other outdoor skills!

Risk & reflection. The geology and history of the climbing site inspire reflection on personal “evolution” and change. The history of these Sioux Quartzite bluffs highlights the power of nature and time relative to human endeavor, providing a humbling context for personal discovery and inquiry into this vulnerable, but resilient biome.

Age: Adults 18+
Dates: July 5-8, 2018
Cost: $895/person
CEUs: Available upon request

Registration deadline: May 4, 2018

Register Online 

More than 3 months prior (before April 5): Full refund minus a $100 transaction fee
2-3 months prior (between April 5 and May 4):  50% refund of land cost
Fewer than 2 months prior (after May 4): No refund (you may find your own replacement and transfer your registration to another person, however).

For any questions, e-mail [email protected].