It's April 2, 2020, as I write this, and the COVID-19 pandemic has brought profound change to the world. Like many others around the globe, Minnesotans are doing their best to flatten the curve through social distancing (or "extreme nesting," as I like to call it). I sincerely hope you're healthy and safe and that you've been able to find solace in the outdoors. I'm lucky to live near a wooded trail system, which has been a real gift for my family during the stay-at-home period. We've also been distracting ourselves with some good old screen time, including an episode of Nature that taught us that beavers are the original AirBnB hosts: In winter, they open their lodges to everything from muskrats to frogs. Who knew?
It's May or later in your world. Have things improved? Social distancing models provide hope, though we will of course feel the aftershocks of this virus for months, if not years. Which raises the question: What role should Minnesota Conservation Volunteer play in a crisis? I've thought a lot about this lately—nothing like a pandemic to put things into perspective—and I've realized that MCV is so much more than a magazine. At its core, it's an educational tool. For 80 years, we've chronicled the story of conservation in the state, keeping readers informed about the issues that shape our wild world.
Our education mission has a wide reach. We send at least one free copy of each issue to every public library and K-12 public school in Minnesota. Teachers use our Young Naturalists lesson plans to broaden their students' understanding of the state's flora and fauna. Given the unpredictable state of things, you could argue that the service we provide is more important than ever.
So we're gonna hold steady. Conservation issues don't magically disappear when the human world slows down, and we plan on doing everything we can to deliver our stories to your mailbox every two months. Speaking of which, I hope you enjoy this issue, with one caveat: Although I recommend staying overnight at William O'Brien State Park on page 19, campgrounds at all state parks and recreation areas are closed until May 1 as of this writing. The parks themselves remain open, but I of course have no way of knowing when camping areas will be up and running again. But hopefully life as we know it, and as it's played out on the pages herein, will return to some version of normal very soon.
In the meantime, if there are children and teachers in your lives who could benefit from our Young Naturalists series (and accompanying online lesson plans), please encourage them to visit our website.
Be well, everyone. And in case you're interested, the name of that Nature episode is "Leave It to Beavers."
Chris Clayton, editor in chief