By Tucker Henderson
Are you a nature enthusiast? Looking for a new hobby? Maybe you’d like to learn more about the natural world around you. If so, there are two presentations coming to New York Mills this fall.
Steve Maanum, a resident of Park Rapids, will be giving two presentations at the New York Mills Public Library in September and October. Maanum is a natural teacher and has 34 years of teaching experience from fifth to eighth grades in science and language arts.
“As a teacher I combined inside lessons with outside hands-on activities in a variety of ways that helped my students make connections to nature,” said Maanum. “We accompanied researchers to black bear dens and bald eagle nests, we helped our DNR capture and band Canada geese, and we sat in blinds to observe and photograph prairie chickens booming.”
Maanum said that nature has always played an important role in his life. As a wildlife photographer and writer and now retired from teaching, Maanum gives nature presentations and workshops to various groups and individuals from across the nation.
“I love spending time in nature,” said Maanum. “But what I love even more is sharing it with others. My niche as an outdoor communicator is to share nature with others in an educational and entertaining way so that they may not only learn about our natural world, but so they may also be motivated to experience it first-hand in safe and meaningful ways and then to find ways of sharing it with others, especially kids.”
As a child growing up in Benson, Minn., Maanum cited four nature mentors that were instrumental in his love of the subject. His dad took him hunting and fishing, his grandfather was a photographer and did darkroom film developing, his scout leader also did photography and led nature studies, and his biology teacher taught about nature and bird studies.
“For my Eagle Scout project, I built 10 wood duck nest boxes and placed them in wetlands around Benson. Now over 50 years later I am still building and monitoring nest boxes and documenting wood duck behavior by photographing the egg laying, incubating, hatching, and leaping of day-old ducklings,” said Maanum.
Much of Maanum’s writings have been featured in newspapers and magazines such as Midwest Boomers, Senior Perspective, the Park Rapids Enterprise, as well as his first story published in the Minneapolis Tribune in 1981. His first photo that was published was in the national Ducks Unlimited magazine in 1978.
A couple e-books and several manuscripts sit on Maanum’s computer and a current book proposal “My Mornings on the Lake” is being reviewed by a publisher. Always a project to work on, Maanum stays busy with his full-time hobbies, bike riding, travel, grandchildren’s sporting events, volunteering in his community, on top of his nature photography and writing.
“As a parent and grandparent, I have shared many of those experiences with our kids and grandkids,” Maanum said.
As a presenter at the Young Author Conferences in Minnesota each year, a former presenter at state and national Environmental Education conferences, and various presentations for teachers, students, 4-H staff and youth, state parks, refuges and libraries accros the nation, Maanum knows the ins and outs of teaching about his favorite subject.
His two presentations will be available at the New York Mills Library, free of charge. His first presentation “The Loon: History of a Minnesota Icon” will be Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m.
The second presentation “Art of Wildlife Photography” will be Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 6:30 p.m.
Preregistration with the library is encouraged.