The Outdoor Campus thinks #SiouxFallsRocks

The Outdoor Campus thinks #SiouxFallsRocks

By Chloe Litzen

Now, more than ever, the city of Sioux Falls is an exciting and energizing place to be. With the development and urbanization of our city, Sioux Falls is continually popularizing the state motto “Great Places, Great Faces.” The combination of entertainment, food, art and attractions has locals and visiting guests raving about how awesome Sioux Falls truly is.

Sioux Falls local Carla Burke Tibbetts started a city wide artistic “activity” enabling community members to share their passion and love for the city of Sioux Falls. #SiouxFallsRocks is a activity for all ages, encouraging community members to paint rock showcasing kindness and support for everyone in the area. After rocks are painted, artists of all ages hide the rocks around town, (mostly in parks, areas of high traffic, and community centers like The Outdoor Campus.) The goal here is to spread cheer and random acts of kindness to those who discover the hidden rocks.


On the back of each rock is the hash tag #SiouxFallsRocks to remind members that, in fact, Sioux Falls does Rock! The hash tag is also used to connect people via social media creating a larger sense of Sioux Falls community and pride. Rocks can either be kept or re-hidden around the town for others to discover and share.


Here at the Outdoor Campus rocks are found all the time by staff and visitors; it ROCKS! We have had a great time participating in the adventure as well, painting scenes of nature, sharing the beauty and fun of the great outdoors.

#SiouxFallsRocks is a fun and exciting activity for everyone who participates and here at the Outdoor Campus we encourage everyone to try it for themselves.

Next time you stumble upon a “unique” rock, pick it up and see, perhaps it will deliver a message of kindness and love. Please share your treasures via social media using the hash tag #SiouxFallsRocks. It is so much fun to see how simple rocks can effect a community in such a positive way!


What Joyce Taught Me About Nature


by Thea Miller Ryan

I was one of those horse crazy kids. Every tree in my backyard was a barrel, a pole or the finish line on a horse race track. If I wasn’t riding my pretend horses, I was a horse, thundering through the back alley of my Rapid City home.

One day, I remember “whoaing” my horse next to a big Aspen in my backyard. There was a bug there about the size of my head. It was fuzzy, red and white striped and had huge wings with half moons on them. I wasn’t sure if I should scream or dismount my invisible appaloosa and become a scientist. That’s when the screen door opened into our backyard and this really pretty lady came out on our patio with my mom and dad.

“Look at that!” she pointed into the tree where I stood. “Do you know what that’s called?” She was so pretty, standing there in a blue skirt with her golden yellow hair. I wasn’t sure someone so pretty could know what that scary bug was.

“No,” I squeaked out, still uncertain if I was afraid.

“It’s called a cecropia. See the moons on its wings?”

I looked at my dad. He nodded. “This is our friend Joyce.”

“Hi,” I mumbled, knowing if should have shaken her hand and introduced myself. All I wanted to do was go inside and look in the encyclopedia and see if she was right. “What letter does it start with?”

“C,” she said.

Joyce Hazeltine stayed at our house in Rapid City a few times during her first campaign for Secretary of State. When we moved to Pierre a year later, my mom went to work for her in her Secretary of the Senate office. Since school was so close to the capitol, I would go sit in the senate gallery after school and watch the proceedings. One day I even drew a picture of some of the things I heard Joyce say, like “hog house,” and “smoke out,” illustrating the terms with pig-looking legislators with big cigarettes in their mouths. I showed her and the next day my drawing circulated on the floor of the senate. Joyce pointed up to me in the senate gallery each time a senator burst out in laughter.

A cercropeia caterpillar
A cecropia caterpillar

She and her husband had a café in downtown Pierre: The Liberty Café. Her daughter was a skate guard at the roller rink. She won the Secretary of State election and didn’t mind if I hung out in the lobby of her office, doing my homework while I waited for my mom or dad to get off work. I seriously thought the Hazeltines were the coolest family on the planet.

It’s been a long time since I saw Joyce, but now I do see cecropia moths a lot with my job. Every time I do, I think back to that day when that really pretty lady told me about the big bug in my backyard. Was it the one thing that got me interested in working in this field? It might have been.

Rest in peace, Joyce. I learned so much from you – starting with the letter “c.”





7 Things to Pack When Birding

7 Things to Pack When Birding

By Thomas Docken

1. Binoculars


Having a good set of binoculars when birding can make a day birding more enjoyable. Most birds are skittish when humans come near. So keeping more distance between you and what bird you are looking at can increase the amount of time you can look at that bird’s characteristic. A wise individual once told me that when you buy binoculars “you get what you pay for.” Binoculars range in price from $10 to $300 any pair will work depending on the magnification and quality.

2. Bird Field ID Guide

There are many guides published that will help aid in bird identification. An idea to look for is a guide that is specific to your location. Many guides can be big and bulky having many birds from around the world making it difficult to find a bird right here in South Dakota. Another thing to look for is a guide that has pictures of male, female, and younger birds. The same species may look different depending on gender and age.

3. Bird TunesBirdTunes-full

One thing I find helpful when you can only hear a bird and not see it is a bird song app. The app I personally use, Bird Tunes, has 674 species with different calls for what behavior is being carried out. Bird Tunes is $9.99, but there are free apps out that have songs of many birds you see in your backyard.

4. A Watch

A watch sounds like a silly item to need when birding but knowing the time of day that a bird stops at a certain location can be fun. Birds like other animals are creatures of habit and will stop at a bird feeder or sit in a tree and sing at specific times of the day. Knowing the time and location of a bird can be helpful by showing fellow birder what you had seen previously.

5. Proper Attire

When outdoors, it is always best to be prepared for the weather. You will want to judge your best attire based on what terrain you will be birding around. Such as, if you are looking for a type of bird that spends most of its time by the water consider wearing rubber boots or waders.

6. A Camera

Personally I use my camera as my binoculars so I can capture a picture of the bird at the same time. That way if I only get a glimpse of the bird I am looking at and have a picture I can look back at the picture I have taken. With so many different species of birds it is near impossible to memorize what every bird and their song is. I often take pictures of a bird I have never seen before and later refer to my field guide or the internet to identify the species.

7. Log Book

Logging any outdoor experience is good to do for future reference. Things to log about are camping trips, hikes, fishing, hunting, or birding. I log about the activities done and what other activities could have been done. I usually date and label the location the outdoor activity was done including the weather.

Thomas is a naturalist intern at The Outdoor Campus. He attends South Dakota State University as a wildlife and fisheries major. His favorite activities are hunting, fishing and birding.


What is Orienteering?

What is Orienteering?

It’s registration day for classes at The Outdoor Campus, and you come across a class titled “Orienteering.” Unless you are an outdoor expert or you have signed up for the class before, most people don’t know what orienteering is.

So what is orienteering?

According to Orienteering USA, orienteering is a competitive international sport that combines racing with navigation. It is a timed race in which individual participants use a specially created, highly detailed map to select routes and navigate through diverse and often unfamiliar terrain and visit control points in sequence.

Originally a training exercise in land navigation for military officers in Scandinavia, orienteering has developed many variations. Among these, the oldest and the most popular is so-called foot orienteering, orienteering while running or walking on foot. Typically, when people use the term orienteering, this is what they’re referring to. But now people also orienteer on skis, mountain bikes, and even in canoes!

It is essentially a big, elaborate scavenger hunt.

How is the course set up?

A standard orienteering course consists of a start, a series of control sites that are marked by circles, connected by lines and numbered in the order they are to be visited, and a finish.


The control site circles are centered on the feature that is to be found; this feature is also defined by control descriptions (sometimes called clues, a list of which you’ll receive along with your map, or printed on your map. You can see some examples of these clues in the photo above.

To verify a visit, the orienteer may use a punch hanging next to the flag to mark his or her control card. Different punches make different patterns of holes in the paper.


Hopefully this gives you a better idea of what orienteering is and maybe you will find it in you to register for one of our classes. It’s a fun way to get outside and helps kids learn how to read and follow a map. To register for our classes you can log on to our website or give us a call at 605-362-2777. (Class spots for the rest of the summer are limited. Fall registration starts August 10 at 7 a.m.)



5 Places to Go Fishing in Sioux Falls

5 Places to Go Fishing in Sioux Falls

Summer is a perfect time to take your kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews out to go fishing on a lake or river near you. If you’re in Sioux Falls, you most certainly do not have to go far as there are several places to cast your line. Check out these public fishing areas.

1. Family Park


Family Park Fishing Saturday is a great place to go if you don’t want to haul poles and a tackle box to the access point. In cooperation with Game, Fish and Parks and The Outdoor Campus, Family Park provides the poles for free and all you have to do is show up. They will even teach you how to bait a hook and properly cast. The water is restocked with about 14,000 rainbow trout each year, but you can also catch bass, crappie, and northern pike.

2. Big Sioux River


This is an obvious place as it is the large body of water that runs through the entire city. The Big Sioux is a tributary of the Missouri River and is home to a wide variety of walleye, pike, bass, crappie, catfish and bullhead. There are several fishing spots located throughout its flow through Sioux Falls.

3. Covell Lake


Located in the peaceful, serene setting of Terrace Park, you can enjoy shore fishing for crappie, perch, bullhead and pike here. The park also offers several other amenities to enjoy like picnic shelters, a nearby swimming pool, and the beautiful Japanese gardens. So if the kids get bored of fishing, you have other things to do.

4. Scotts Lake


A very popular angler spot, Scotts Lake, formerly Scotts Slough, is located about 25 minutes north of Sioux Falls in Hartford. This is a place where you can catch a lot of fish in one trip, which is great for beginners. If you like fishing on the water, there are access points for non-motorized boats. The most popular catches here are perch, sunfish and bullhead.

5. Lake Alvin


This 59 acre park, located 25 minutes south of Sioux Falls in Harrisburg, is best known for its beach and excellent fishing. Although it is small in size, anglers can expect to catch walleye, northern pike, crappie, sunfish, perch, catfish and bullheads. The 105 acre lake is the perfect size for any boat and motor; however, the lake is designated as a no-wake zone to protect the shoreline from erosion.

A Weekend Adventure

A Weekend Adventure

By Monica Boyer, College of St. Scholastica, Class of ’18

What makes a perfect adventure? I would say getting outdoors and trying something new. Last weekend, I had my own little adventure. My family and I traveled to Duluth, MN and the surrounding area for some outdoor fun. Our first stop was Gooseberry Falls to do some hiking. When I go hiking, I like to do a few different things. I always wear my favorite hat (of course it is a TOC hat), a sturdy pair of shoes and I bring a water bottle. I make sure that I have sunscreen and bug spray on; getting burnt or getting bit can ruin the adventure.

The view from one of the bridges.


My family and I hiked around Gooseberry and were able to see the upper, middle and lower falls. It was the perfect day to be outside! It was sunny but not terribly hot. We weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the great weather. Along our hike, we meet many other families and groups. Some of the families were from that area and others were from different countries. It was great to see so many people outside and enjoying nature.

Me and my favorite hiking buddy (my sister)


Taking in the view from the top of some rocks


My family and I had a great time seeing the waterfalls and spotting different types of birds and trees! It was a great outdoor adventure! After or hike, we were pretty hungry so we stopped for pie. My piece of pie had blueberries, rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries in it. It was an amazing piece of pie! I probably could have eaten six more pieces. Overall, it was a fun weekend adventure. I would encourage everyone to get outside and try something new outdoors this summer!

If you love the outdoors and want to share your passion with others, become a volunteer! Our volunteers assist with classes, care for our animals and welcome in visitors at our front desk. The application process starts at age 12. To apply to be a volunteer, visit our website  and click then click the “Apply Now!” link. If you have any questions about volunteering or just want to learn more, email me at

Monica is the volunteer coordinator intern for The Outdoor Campus.

5 Camping Hacks That Will Change Your Life

5 Camping Hacks That Will Change Your Life

By Haley Baker, Kent State University ’16

Sometimes you wish things could be easier or more convenient when camping. You might have three rambunctious children and a grumpy, caffeine-deprived husband, or you are chaperoning a group of 20 campers with two other tired adults that wish they volunteered for the senior center casino trip instead. Whatever the case, these camping hacks will save you time and energy, or just make your camping trip just a little bit better.

1. Make instant coffee with these DIY coffee filter bags2

First thing’s first. You have to caffeinate for your long day ahead. But you don’t have to spend money on getting packets of instant coffee. Just take your favorite coffee, put one (or two) scoops inside a coffee filter and tie it off with dental floss. Make as many as you think you’ll need for your trip the day before.

2. Use Doritos (or any corn chips) as kindling when you can’t find anyscreen-shot-2014-01-18-at-12-47-35-pm

Pack some extra Doritos! The tasty chip we all know and love has just the right combination of chemicals, powdered flavor and oils that you need to start a fire. This is a fun experiment to try if you have curious kids or if you really can’t find any dry kindling out in nature. But this also makes me rethink my snacks choices.

3. Aim a headlamp into an empty milk jug for an instant lanternjug_light1

Need a light that lights up the whole tent? Take your handy headlamp (a camping staple) and aim it into an empty milk jug. Much better than paying for and hauling a heavy lantern in the tent when you want to read.

4. Use microfiber towels2-towel

Microfiber towels absorb more and dry faster. They are also lightweight, pack easily, and more durable. Sounds like a good camping towel to me.

5. Roast crescent rolls for fast breads and pastriescamping-recipes-campfire-crescent-roll-dogs-honest-cooking-cool-mom-picks_zps23597a1b

Crescent rolls are very versatile and pack easy in a cooler. There are a million campfire crescent roll recipes on Pinterest, but my favorite is the campfire churro because YUM! Just sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar on your roll, wrap it and roast it. They are even better with whipped cream.

Haley is writing for the Outdoor Campus as part of an internship in Public Relations.