This issue's cover star grabbed the Volunteer staff right away, earning the nickname "raspberry girl." And what's not to like about a kid in a straw hat and tie dye admiring a handful of bright red berries? She's a Norman Rockwell painting come to life—silly, joyful, impossibly pure.
What might be the Volunteer's most "human" cover ever doubles as a reminder that this is as much a magazine about people as it is the wild world. Each issue reflects a broad range of humanity, from researchers such as wood turtle expert Gaea Crozier to recreationists like raspberry girl, who, let the record show, does have a real name: Berkley Hoff. In late summer 2016, Berkley and her family came upon a patch of wild raspberries at the put-in on Caribou Lake near Lutsen. She was 6 at the time and lit up when her younger brother, Grady, showed off the literal fruits of his labor. Frequent MCV contributor Layne Kennedy happened to be at the launch as well and captured the moment with his trusty Nikon.
If raspberry girl is this edition's mascot, Teresa Marrone is its coach. A hero in Minnesota's foraging community, Teresa has written multiple books on finding and cooking wild foods, including Abundantly Wild, which, among other things, taught me that cattail pollen is edible (it tastes sort of like sweetcorn). Teresa wrote the excellent berry picking primer in this issue, but if you want to go deeper, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better book on the subject than her Wild Berries and Fruits Field Guide of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
One of the more people-centric stories herein is Keith Goetzman's charming profile of 87-year-old Betsy Putzier, who is attempting to stay overnight at every Minnesota state park that offers tent camping. I love Betsy's understated explanation for why she set out to reach this goal: "… I started thinking, well, maybe that would be a fun thing to try to do them all." How's that for Midwestern rationale? Betsy reminds me of my Grandma Bernie, who at 88 still cooks, travels, and lives by a simple phrase she coined decades ago: You can't beat fun.
If Betsy's story elicits warm fuzzies, Amanda Kueper's climate change feature is a sobering counterweight that unpacks the profound impact humankind has had on Lake Superior and the surrounding forestland. It's not all doom and gloom, though. Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Program is working with North Shore communities to proactively address climate and conservation issues. This partnership between the DNR and the federal government lends expertise and financial aid to flood mitigation and coastal restoration projects—and occasionally sponsors public climate talks.
Near the back of this edition you'll find yet another human story, albeit a tragic one. Last April DNR Conservation Officer Eugene Wynn drowned in Cross Lake while responding to an emergency call. Though Joe Albert's tribute to Wynn lays out the many risks and facets of the field officer job, it also shows the man behind the badge. Like Betsy Putzier and raspberry girl, Wynn loved the outdoors. It's a common bond for so many Minnesotans, one that connects past to present and provides hope for the future.