Starry Trek 2021 – August 21st

Join us for this Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) event that is open to all ages – a fun educational activity for families, lakes owners, youth groups, etc. The Ripple Lake boat access will be the 2021 Aitkin County training site. Training will discuss how to identify native aquatic vs look alike invasive aquatics. Each group will have an opportunity to sample at least 2 Aitkin County lakes. This event is sponsored by UMN Extension AIS Detector program and Aitkin County Soil & Water Conservation District.

About this event

Starry stonewort is an invasive algae that was first found in Lake Koronis in 2015 and has since spread to 14 Minnesota lakes. Now we are asking for your help in searching other lakes to better understand its distribution in Minnesota. You can learn more about starry stonewort here.

You will be teaming up with volunteers across the state as well as volunteers in Wisconsin participating in a sister event (AIS Snapshot Day) to help in the early detection of aquatic invasive species. During our inaugural event in 2017, volunteers participating in Starry Trek discovered a new population of starry stonewort in Grand Lake (Stearns County). As a result of this discovery the local lake association and MN DNR teamed up in a rapid response plan to remove the small patch of starry stonewort and have since been able to limit the spread of the population in Grand Lake beyond the boat launch area it was initially discovered at.

Local training sites are located across the state and will be hosted by local agencies and organizations to search nearby locations (see map). Participants will meet at the local training site in the morning and will be assigned sites to search upon arrival. All participants will need to return to the local training site to check-in and turn in an specimens and datasheets at the end of the day. No experience necessary! Participants under the age of 18 will need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Youth clubs (scouts, 4-H, etc.) can contact Megan Weber to learn how to participate as a club.

Click the “Register” button to view the list of local training sites and to register to participate at a location near you! You will receive an e-mail with additional details about your location, including your local coordinator’s contact information. Volunteers will receive a complimentary tote bag for participating in this free event (guaranteed availability for all volunteers registered prior by August 15th).

In the event of inclement weather, local sites will move the event to August 22nd (following the same schedule). You will be notified via e-mail if your local training site site is impacted by inclement weather.

Click here to view an interactive map of Starry Trek rendezvous locations and find a site near you!

		Starry Trek 2021 image


We anticipate our 2021 event to more closely resemble our pre-COVID procedures. All state and local guidelines and mandates should be followed while participating in Starry Trek. Unvaccinated individuals are encouraged to wear a mask and practice physical distancing and are required to wear masks indoors (almost all of this year’s local training sites are outdoors). As always, please stay home if you are sick.

Register For Starry Trek Using This Link!

It’s Pollinator Week!

Pollinator Week is an annual event celebrated internationally in support of pollinator health. It’s a time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what we can do to protect them and their habitat.

Pollinator species, such as birds, bats, bees, and other insects play a vital role in producing a wide variety of crops grown in the United States, ensuring a variety of fruits, vegetables, and nuts supporting a healthy diet. Pollinators are essential for diverse ecosystems across the country. The Aitkin County SWCD promotes wise resource stewardship, including protecting and maintaining pollinators and their habitats!

In celebration of Pollinator Week here are our top 5 Pollinator Plants for bees. Watch for these to be blooming soon!

1). Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa). This beautiful lavender flower smells great!

2). Butterfly Weed (Asclepias incarnata). This orange, sun loving flower is part of the milkweed family.

3). Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia). Bees love this flower that is a classic flower garden favorite.

4). Fragrant Giant Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). If you like the smell of licorice, this flower is for you!

5). Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta). This easy to grow flower would be a great addition to a flower bed.

Celebrate Pollinator Week – June 21-27, 2021.

For more information visit

Native Tree and Shrub Sales Continue

Shrubs are in short supply!

Red Osier Dogwood – Great Winter Color!

Native trees and shrubs can be a great addition to your property. The benefits are many – from shade trees, and windbreaks to enhancing habitat for wildlife. Bare root varieties are an easy to plant and budget friendly alternative.

The Aitkin County SWCD offers a variety of tree and shrub species for sale. Order are taken until the supply is exhausted. Many shrub species are already nearly sold out for the spring of 2021. Place you order soon for the best chance to getting the species you want!

To order trees or shrubs please use the Tree Order Form. For more information contact the Aitkin County SWCD at (218) 927-7284. We can answer questions and help you select the species best suited for your site.

2021 Tree & Shrub Orders Being Taken!

The Aitkin County SWCD is pleased to offer bare root tree seedlings and shrubs for sale again this year. Plants are offered for the low cost of $25 for 25 trees or shrubs!

Species available include a variety of conifers and hardwoods – something for sunny sites to shady sites. These are all listed on the 2021 Tree Order Form. If you need help choosing the best species for your location give us a call at (218) 927-7284. We’d be glad to help!

Orders will be taken until the supply is exhausted. Simply return the order form with your payment, and your selections will be reserved for you. Plans are for the orders to be available for pick up in mid May 2021. Find the 2021 Tree Order Form by clicking on this link.