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MEET NATURE KATY

Meet Katy, Camp Fire Minnesota’s
resident Naturalist.

 

Katy Konrad has loved nature since she was a child.

As the daughter of a conservation officer, Katy, also known as “Goose” at Tanadoona, grew up “being outside all the time, going for hikes, being on boats — doing all things outside.”

One particular incident from Katy’s childhood always stuck with her. She remembers driving back from a lake with her dad and sister, all of them watching as the driver of a car in front of them threw trash outside their window.

Katy’s dad followed the car to the nearest gas station and told the driver he’d be receiving a ticket in the mail for littering.

“My dad sparked a passion for the outdoors – for protecting it and doing right by it,” she recalls. “He was like Superman for nature.”

Katy takes that responsibility for the outdoors seriously.

After receiving a degree in Conservation from the University of Wisconsin—River Falls, where she studied everything from cellular and wildlife biology to water quality and soil conservation, Katy worked in seasonal Naturalist positions at Fort Snelling State Park, Long Lake Conservation Center, and the Three Rivers Park District.

In 2015, she came across a posting for Camp Fire’s Naturalist Fellowship, applied, and was hired almost on the spot. Though the fellowship initially lasted a year, Camp Fire Minnesota asked her to stay for a second term and, last Spring, brought her on as a permanent staff member to help lead Tanadoona’s growing year-round programs like K-12 environmental education field trips.

When asked about how working at Camp Fire differs from her other naturalist positions, she points to the fact that Camp Fire brings nature-based programs to locations across the metro. Katy remembers leading an animal tracking lesson one site in the heart of Minneapolis. “All the kids assumed that that ‘there is no nature here,'” she says, when in fact “that turned out to be the most diverse of all our sites because they had squirrels and rabbits and cats and dogs and birds that we could all track in the snow. And a raccoon that the kids got really excited about seeing.”

“The kids were amazed to see all those tracks near their home. Even though you’re in the heart of the city, there’s still nature in some form.”

Because Katy’s schedule changes based on the day, season, or abrupt shift in weather, two rules ground her when things don’t go according to plan:

1.) Be able to improvise

2.) Have a backup plan

Take, for example, her experience with Canoe Club, a program she launched last Spring. After receiving grant funding for supplies, Katy bought canoes, paddles, life jackets, and a trailer with the intention of getting youth from our out-of-school time programs canoeing on their local lakes.

Of the 5 trips planned, 4 needed to be re-scheduled because of thunderstorms.

On one of the re-scheduled canoe trips, Katy took youth to French Regional Park in Plymouth, Minnesota. Upon arrival though, they found a construction site in place of a boat launch. But instead of turning around and heading home, Katy, who had formerly worked at the park, led the group on an impromptu nature hike.

This unpredictability is part of what Katy likes about her position: “My favorite part of working for Camp Fire is probably those moments that can’t be planned. When you’re on a hike with a group, or down in the marsh and poking through the mud — trying to find stuff — and nature just happens.”

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