Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Hunting for squirrels, but not how you think April 10, 2019


FROM AFAR, I THOUGHT Peter Jacobson carried a bow and arrow, hugged near his body.



But then, as I drew near, I saw instead an antenna and hand-held radio device. Not one to pass by, I stopped and asked about the equipment.



Turns out this science teacher was tracking collared squirrels for the wildlife field biology class he teaches at Faribault High School. If only biology had been this hands-on decades ago, I may actually have liked science. And, yes, we dissected frogs, which held zero appeal for me.



But this, this live trapping, collaring and tracking of squirrels at River Bend Nature Center to learn about their territorial behaviors would have grown my interest in science. Jacobson’s students are out in the field, observing, formulating questions, gathering data.

The study is Minnesota Department of Natural Resources approved with students also earning college credits from Vermilion Community College. Jacobson mentioned a DNR study of moose as we talked about his small scale tracking of squirrels.



I had one question for him. I asked if he could determine how to keep squirrels out of flower pots, a perennial problem for me. I’ve tried to resolve the issue by laying sticks and stones in and across pots around newly potted flowers and plants.

Jacobson laughed, noting the squirrels likely enjoy the challenge. And that was my wildlife biology lesson for the day.


TELL ME: I’d like to hear about any creative and interesting science projects that were part of your high school education.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


The squirrels what? March 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 3:02 PM
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MY SECOND DAUGHTER phoned the other day, just to talk. The conversation turned to Easter, which she will celebrate alone or in a Wisconsin hospital. She’s a Spanish medical interpreter and will be on call on Easter.

“Are you sending me a chocolate bunny?” she asked.

I guess I am now, I thought, then the next day purchased and mailed a chocolate bunny.

That got me thinking about Easter traditions, like the chocolate bunnies we give our kids. And dying eggs. And Easter morning church services. And Easter egg hunts, once a part of extended family Easter dinners, now in the past as we don’t all gather anymore.

Traveling through Madison Lake last weekend, I noticed this sign for an Easter egg hunt.

Traveling through Madison Lake last weekend, I noticed this sign for an Easter egg hunt.

But many communities still have community Easter egg hunts, like the one held at the Rice County Fairgrounds in Faribault last weekend and the one this morning on the campus of Shattuck-St. Mary’s School.

I remember, as a child, participating once in an Easter egg hunt at the Redwood Falls High School football field several blocks from by grandpa’s house. We searched for hard-boiled dyed eggs, not flimsy plastic orbs manufactured in China. The finders of the few golden eggs each received a dollar bill. The rest of us got, well, boiled eggs. And we were happy.

I heard on the radio yesterday that the city of Richfield had a problem with theft at this year’s egg hunt. Seems the squirrels nabbed some of the eggs.

That does not surprise me. I recall watching a squirrel steal my niece’s pink plastic egg during an Easter egg hunt many years ago. She was practically in tears. Over an egg.

Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling