By Chelsea Bruemmer | Environmental Educator

AmeriCorps Member, September 2023 – August 2024

When I was a small child, I considered the earth to be my friend. I grew up in a valley between West Salem and Mindoro where native Wisconsin wildlife was and still is abundant. I remember looking for amphibians late at night all summer long. A whole row of frogs would line up on my parent’s gravel driveway waiting for the bugs that would fly under the outdoor light. They were easy critters for me to catch and hold which I enjoyed because they were typically good listeners, but some preferred to hop out of my hands, bored by my imaginative conversations with them.

As an Environmental Educator, I get to see others fall under the spell of nature’s wonder. When I was walking on the La Crosse River Marsh trails one day, two college students in front of me began to jump up and down in pure excitement. That’s when I noticed a Pileated Woodpecker (who likes to hang around by The Nature Place from time to time) fly right over their heads. I heard one of them exclaim, “I have never seen a Pileated Woodpecker in real life before!” Watching others make a special connection with nature warms my heart.

A tree frog I found a couple of summers ago blending in with a green-gray bench.

Another example that stands out to me is watching young children experiencing the outdoors hands-on. I have witnessed kids enjoy building snow castles and sledding down big snowy hills super-fast and watched their curiosity grow as they investigate insects they have captured in nets. I have also seen them connect with Wisconsin Wildlife by collecting pine cones and leaves. Being outside with kids is magical.

Emma Lather, Environmental Educator, along with 2 children investigating insects they have caught.
Chelsea Bruemmer, Environmental Educator, playing in the snow with a child.

Not surprisingly, I still consider the earth to be my friend. In early February, fellow team member Emma and I saw a mink swimming in the La Crosse River. We were super thrilled! At first, we thought it was a stick floating in the water, but it was a mink! Depending on the season, you will find me ice skating on Neshonoc Lake, looking for butterflies in wildflower patches, or just being outside. I encourage you to explore the discovery and wonder to be found by savoring the natural world. You won’t regret it.

Chelsea Bruemmer, Environmental Educator, ice skating with her sisters on Neshonoc Lake.

Summer Day Camp is on the horizon!