5 Things You Might Not Know About the Interns

5 Things You Might Not Know About the Interns

By Jensen Goodell

1.We are sarcastic 92% of the time.


Although it pains us that we cannot be sarcastic all of the time, the other 8% of our job is pure seriousness. This is reserved for when we are discussing the importance of safety and instruction in our classes to ensure that everything can go smooth and everyone can have fun.

2. The tan lines are real, and they are awkward.

photo 2

Everyone has heard of the farmers tan, but the interns at TOC put those farmers to shame. The tan lines also make it extremely awkward when we do decide to go sleeveless. Kudos to the brave interns that wear Chacos on an everyday basis; those tan lines are close to impossible to hide. P.S. this is the actual foot of Intern Erica Jurgensen.

3. Long after work hours, we still smell like fish and campfire.


Who needs perfume when you have wondrous smells on campfire and fish? The smell is a true stamp of pride that you are an intern at TOC. Spending your days outdoors making delicious smacos and fishing for hours on end is just part of the job description.

4. It’s always a battle: Fitbit vs. Food.


If you have been to TOC, you might have noticed the majority of the interns wear a Fitbit. So you would think that we are really healthy, right? Well it might come as a surprise to know that if there are any treats in our reach, you can bet they will be gone in a matter of minutes. Our Fitbit only provides an excuse to eat as much as we want. Ya know, because we take so many steps!

5. We are “happy to be here.”


Being an intern at The Outdoor Campus also means you get to work with a lot of great people. You would think that we might get sick of each other from working together all day, every day for an entire summer, but we don’t. We even hang out outside of work because we cannot get enough of each other.

From Cold Stone and Finding Dory, to hanging out at Erica’s house and our staff development days also known as “Family Sunday Funday”… on a Friday, we enjoy each other’s company. Contrary to popular belief, we do indeed work as well. Although our family and friends might not believe it, because they only hear about all the fun things we do! Getting the opportunity to work with great people and teach some super fun classes, when we say we are “happy to be here”, we mean it.

Thanks for a good summer!

Jensen is a naturalist intern for The Outdoor Campus this summer. She is currently studying at Augustana University as an elementary education major.


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.


Tips to Avoid Getting Rained Out

Tips to Avoid Getting Rained Out

By Alex Osborne

It happens to everyone at some point, you plan an exciting day outside only for it to be drizzled out by rain; it’s a buzz kill and a down right drag. Here are some tips I’ve picked up to help you predict the weather and avoid being surprised by the elements this summer.

1. Get to know the system


There are two fundamental things you need to know if you’re going to try and predict the weather; the first is that most major weather systems in North America move west to east. The second is that low pressure systems bring rain. It can be kind of difficult, but with a little practice you’ll be able to recognize the signs of a low pressure system in your area.

2. Look for feathered friends


Watch the birds. When rain is imminent, birds will fly lower to alleviate the pressure on their ears. If birds fly high in low pressure it hurts their ears. Just like when you swim too deep in a pool.

3. Red in the sky means high


A reddish tint to the sky in the west during sunset means that a high pressure system is stirring dust into the sky and that dry air is moving toward you. The opposite can be said for a red sky in the east when the sun is rising, this would indicate that the dry air is past you and that a low pressure system is moving in bringing with it the possibility of rain.

4. Check your smoke


My next tip involves one of my favorite things on a cool summer evening, fire! Chances are if you’re out camping you’ll have some logs burning. This is an easy time to try guess if rains coming or not simply by watching the smoke. Smoke that swirls, curls, and descends means low pressure and that rain is coming. During high pressure, smoke will rise steadily.

5. Look up at the clouds


My last tip for you outdoorsmen and women is to get to take the time to get to know your clouds. Not only is it a neat thing to teach the kiddos, but it will help you predict the weather too. Nimbostratus clouds mean that rain is imminent while towers of cumulus clouds are a strong indication that rain is on the way.

Those are all the tips I’ve learned over the years to try and get a jump on the rain. I hope they can help you stay dry this summer and avoid and ruined plans.

Alex is the horticulture intern for The Outdoor Campus this summer. He is currently at Dakota Wesleyan studying Wildlife Management. 

5 Things Not To Do Outdoors

By Tate Stensgaard

1. Don’t flip a canoe

Through experience, I have found out I do not want to flip a canoe or kayak. During summer training, we had to flip in the pond to know what to do and how to help someone out if it ever happened. I found that it is not my best skill getting back in once I flipped. Knowing the proper way to get back in does not mean you know how to actually do it. While trying to get into the canoe with my partner, Jensen, I found it incredibly hard to get my lengthy body in after she had already jumped in so easily. Every time I would attempt to get in to paddle back to shore, I surely flipped the two of us back over numerous times until I finally got in and we ended up having Jensen dragging myself and the canoe in. So, easiest piece of advice I could give is to simply NOT flip your canoe.

2. Don’t be a hooker

While teaching at The Outdoor Campus, I have found the most nerve wracking thing to be is fishing on the dock with many kids. My fear is that while kids swing the fishing poles around like there is nobody there, someone will catch another student. We hope that every student will catch a fish, but pray that they don’t hook anyone else. There have been countless times a fish eats the worm off the hook and a student whips their pole in a full circle to have us put another on. Every single time it happens, my heart stops and I hope nobody is near the hook. When you are fishing, just be careful of where you are swinging your hooked line.

3. Don’t take home/pick up an animal

baby animals ducks

We all hear those stories of people picking up a baby buffalo, or baby deer they think is abandoned by their parents, so they feel sorry for it and want to do it good by picking it up to bring somewhere like the Outdoor Campus or Game, Fish and Parks office. Well here’s a good piece of advice…. DON’T. As lost and in need of help as the animals may look, they are usually going to be just fine on their own. If you are unsure if the animal is in need of help, don’t pick it up. It is better to call someone that is meant to help, than to pick it up when you don’t know what you’re doing. One of my favorite sayings at The Outdoor Campus is “if you care, leave it there.”

4. Don’t take the unbeaten path

Log Across Path.JPG
Photo by Matt Stoffel


Refer to Erica’s post about getting lost in the mountains if you want to know what being lost is like. I’ve never been lost because I’m too scared to be. So know where you’re going and tell someone where you plan to be.

5. Don’t forget sunscreen

My final tip for things not to do outdoors is to forget sunscreen. I have done this too many times and regret it every time. Being fair skinned, it takes 30 minutes on a sunny day to turn me as red as a tomato. The following days are miserable, everything is so much harder when every move you make, your shirt rubs your shoulders and the pain is miserable. For everyone that has been burned badly, you know the pain.

Tate is a naturalist intern at The Outdoor Campus this summer and is a recreation, park, and tourism management major at the University of Western Illinois.

An Outdoor Survival Lesson

An Outdoor Survival Lesson

By Erica Jurgensen

One particular class we teach is Outdoor Survival to our Jr. Explorers (8-12 year olds). Little did I know that this class would come in handy while I was out exploring the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

It all started off with a list of things we should have done to prepare for our hike but never actually did. Big Mistake! I always tell my students to be prepared but I of course did not take my own advice. When I left for the hike it was bright, sunny, and 85 degrees out. I had my hiking shoes and long pants on but was just wearing a t-shirt. I thought about bringing a jacket, but decided against it. I also had a day pack along with some water and snacks and enough room for the camera. The one correct decision I made was to not conquer this hike alone.

The start of the hike was very leisurely with a nice gravel path to follow on. We followed the path up to an area called Alberta Falls. It was an amazing site to see all the snow melt rushing through the pass. We continued on our way with anticipation for the view around each turn. We saw the snow-peaked mountains in front of us and the Valley of Estes Park behind us. As we continued we came to a fork in the road. We knew we wanted to continue to the right to make the loop to see three different ponds on our hike. But when we looked to the right, there really wasn’t much of a path. All we could see was a few footsteps walking through the snow.

We checked the map over about three times before determining that it was indeed the way to go. So, we followed the footsteps through snow that grew deeper as we went further into the mountains. It was surprising how much snow there was when the air temperature was so warm. We followed orange markers that were tied around the tree every 20-50 yards or so.

Around a turn we finally came across the first of the three ponds. It was spectacular to see the still water reflecting the mountain tops. At this point we had walked a little over 4 miles and it was now the mid-afternoon. We stopped for a snack and it dawned on me that the skies were getting darker. Little did we know that every afternoon during the month of June, it apparently rains in the mountains. Yet another mistake!

I always tell the kids to do some research of the area before you go into the wilderness. Well, the only research I did was that we were somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Seeing the darker skies we realized we should probably kick our leisurely stroll into high gear.

We got off the path a bit and realized that we were no longer following footsteps but instead we were walking on a water path. We did not realize this until the snow broke through behind us and we saw the freezing, gushing water. You can believe we got off that as quickly as possible. Luckily the path wasn’t too far off.

As we continued on our little path we came across another group of people and asked them to make sure we were headed in the right direction. Good choice! As it turned out we were indeed heading in the right direction. When we came around yet another turn, we finally saw one of the other ponds from a distance. As we started our descent down, my friend continued to head towards the direction of the pond, which was to the left. But I saw a T in the road going to the right that he did not see. I paused for a moment because the one to the right seemed more like a path then the one to the left. But I fought my instinct and continued to follow my friend to the left. Another big mistake!

This path had footsteps on it, but it was one of the sketchiest paths I have ever been on. There were times when we had to cling to the snow and traverse across a cliff to get to the other side. If we were to fall, it would be a 20ft tumble down. Remember how I said I only had a t-shirt on? I was definitely regretting my decision now of not being prepared. My hands and arms were freezing. Now there was thunder and lightning to add to the mix. We continued on this ‘path’ for a half a mile before coming to a dead end. Seeing this dead end was utterly heart-breaking. The last thing we wanted to do was go back the way we came! But that was the only choice we had.

So, back across the cliff we went! There came a point where we saw the footsteps we had been following go down a slope. We debated for a time if that was the way to go. It was within this debate that I saw a lightning bolt strike the mountain directly above me. In a panic, I decided I needed to get off the mountain. I once again forgot my tips to my students and let panic take over. Yes, I slide down the slope at a very unsettling speed. Luckily, I was able to stop. My friend however was not so lucky and slide into a rock.

We were very fortunate that this bad decision did not result in any broken bones. Unfortunately for us, it was not the correct way to go, again. And back up the slope we went. We went back to where I saw the fork in the road, which did indeed turn out to be the correct way to go. When we finally made it to the lake, we kissed the sign that told us we made it to our destination!

After a long adventure, I now have a tale to tell my students. I make it a point that they understand to always prepare for the worse, don’t fight your instincts, as well as to never let panic take over. Even an instructor can be in the worse of situations. It can happen to anyone. This post is not to scare anyone away from hiking the Rockies. In fact, I highly recommend doing it. Just make sure you check the map and dress appropriately!

 Erica is a veteran naturalist intern at The Outdoor Campus and is an elementary education major at the University of South Dakota.

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.boyer@state.sd.us

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.