The Minnesota Valley History Learning Center (MVHLC) in Morton is gearing up for its summer explorers program, and it is inviting all area youth who are going into grades 3-8 to be involved.

Deb Kaardal, MVHLC program director, said the program this year is going to feature the Prairie Ecology Bus from Lakefield. Explorers will have the opportunity July 20-21 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day to learn about the outdoors in the Minnesota River Valley with the participants visiting places in Morton and around the Birch Coulee Battlefield. Registrations are being accepted until July 18, and Kaardal said the program is free. 

The MVHLC has as its vision to teach the “natural and cultural heritage of the Minnesota River Valley” and inspire “people of all generations to understand, preserve and learn from our shared history.”

Kaardal, who took over coordination of the MVHLC, said she has an interest in the area, adding it has been part of who she is for much of her life.

“I love the history of this area,” Kaardal said. “I enjoy showing people around the area and telling them about our local history.”

Kaardal also has an interest in making sure the next generation in her family, including her grandchildren and great-grandchildren feel that same connection to the area.

Giving all area youth a chance to make that connection is what the MVHLC is all about, and it is through program, such as the explorers, that the next generation finds that connection.

Kaardal said in the long term she envisions holding several events for youth throughout the year, such as the explorers program. That could mean doing various activities, such as snowshoeing in the winter or floating down the river during the summer.

During this year’s explorers program, youth will be guided by professional naturalists and trained adult volunteers as they are allowed to do hands-on activities related to the local ecology.

Each youth who registers for the program receives a t-shirt, water bottle and backpack. The program is available for up to 60 youth.

During the two-day event, explorers will learn about insects, nature interpretation through art, bird ecology and microscopes. To register for the program, call Morton city hall at (507) 697-6912. There are forms that need to be filled out before youth are able to take part.

In addition to the summer explorers program for youth, MVHLC is also offering a series of lunch and learn programs this summer in the area. The list includes:

• Morton Memories and the Minnesota River, which is being offered July 29 at 10 a.m. at the Renville County Museum in Morton. The speaker is Darby Nelson who grew up in the Morton area.

• The Little Crow documentary is being shown Aug. 19 starting at 10:30 a.m. at the Lower Sioux Agency historic site.

• A Wood Lake Battlefield symposium is being held Sept. 23 at Rock Valle Lutheran Church north of Echo.

Learn more about MVHLC and its programs at

Photos courtesy of the Prairie Ecology Bus Web site