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Maanum is guest speaker at wetlands banquet

Wildlife photographer, educator and magazine columnist Steve Maanum will be the guest speaker at the fourth annual Back to the Wetlands Fundraiser banquet, set for Friday, April 11 at the Speak Easy in Detroit Lakes. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Throughout his career as a teacher, wildlife photographer and magazine columnist, Steve Maanum has continued to pursue his dual passions — education and the outdoors.

It is those two themes that will play an intrinsic part of Maanum’s presentation at the fifth annual Back to the Wetlands Fundraiser, set for this

Friday, April 11, at the Speak Easy in Detroit Lakes.

Maanum’s presentation, titled “The Positive Effects of Wildlife Research,” will take place after the 6 p.m. cocktail hour and 7 p.m. dinner.

A Minnesota native who makes his home in Park Rapids, Maanum spent 34 years in education (1973-2007), most of them teaching fifth grade in the Park Rapids district.

“I was a classroom teacher for 34 years, and one of my priorities was always connecting my students to nature, by combining inside classroom lessons with outside, hands-on activities,” Maanum said.

For instance, one day he would bring his students out with some bear researchers to visit some bear den sites, then have the researchers send their data back to him so he could incorporate it into the students’ math lessons, by having them compile the data into graphs and charts.

“We would build bluebird houses every spring, then establish a bluebird trail, and I had the kids monitoring that trail,” Maanum added.

Following his retirement from teaching, he became the greater Minnesota project coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Digital Photography Bridge to Nature program, authored by Carrol Henderson.

This project, launched in 2010, funded 80 teacher workshops to train more than 1,000 teachers in the use of digital photography, and how to integrate nature photo lessons into their existing curriculum.

“It was the first project of its kind in the nation,” Maanum said.

Though the funding for the project was discontinued last July, Maanum is hoping to continue its ultimate goal of bringing nature into the classroom through a partnership with the University of Minnesota-Crookston.

UM-Crookston is helping Maanum to stage a series of 10 “Triple Event Nature Days” at wildlife refuges and state parks throughout western and northern Minnesota. 

The “triple event” part of these nature days will begin with a morning session where teachers, parents and grandparents, 4-H leaders and other youth program volunteers will learn about the use of digital cameras in nature photography.

In the afternoon, children from the area will be invited to the site for a nature photo safari, where they will learn how to take their own digital photos.

The third part of the event is Maanum’s presentation on photographing wildlife in ethical ways.

That essentially means, “not putting stress on the animals,” Maanum explained.

“As nature photographers, we have a responsibility to learn about our animals so we don’t cause them any problems,” he added — such as disturbing a nest and leaving it vulnerable to attack from predators.

The first of these “Triple Event Nature Days” will take place on April 26 at Buffalo River State Park near Glyndon, in conjunction with the Regional Science Center located at the same site.

Another is planned for Saturday, June 7, at the Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge near Audubon, in conjunction with the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District.

Maanum will touch on these projects as part of his presentation on Friday, but the crux of the discussion will be about how partnerships between various environmental and wildlife research organizations can have a positive impact on local wildlife populations.

Maanum specifically referred to the loon migration research being done in the upper Midwest, and the technology being used to help wildlife specialists learn more about the effects of environmental damage such as the oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico a couple of years ago, as well as the loons that have died in northern Michigan from apparent Type E botulism.

Tickets for Friday’s Back to the Wetlands banquet are $30, and may be purchased by calling Nancy at 218-847-4004, Darlene at 218-847-2338, or the Detroit Lakes wetlands office at 218-847-4431.

All proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to benefit the Hamden Slough Nature Outdoors Classroom Project.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454