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  • Writer's pictureShelby Roberts

5 Things to do Outside while Sheltering in Place

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

Scott County residents are learning how to navigate spring while maintaining safe social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Many spring public events have been postponed or canceled due to the current circumstances, so it can feel isolating and difficult to know what to do. But social distancing doesn't mean you have to stay cooped up inside.

With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day approaching on April 22, 2020, there's more reason now then ever before to discover new, clever ways to recognize the day. Why not use your extra time to help the planet with some of these solo, earth-day-friendly activities.

Plant Some Trees!

The Scott SWCD Tree sale is open for pre-orders until April 19, 2020. Order bundles of native tree seedlings that you and your family can plant outside together. Bring beauty, wildlife, and nature to your property while keeping you and your family safe.

Each tree that is planted in Scott County plays a role in conserving soil and water by holding soil in place and allowing storm water to seep into the ground. At last year’s tree sale, residents purchased 28,500 tree and shrub seedlings to plant for wildlife habitat, property borders, and landscaping. And there’s still time to order! Check out our tree website to see our selection and place an order.

For additional information regarding this year’s sale, or for other inventory inquiries, call the Scott SWCD office in Jordan, (952) 492-5425, or send an e-mail to for more information.

Adopt a Stormdrain.

Storm Drain Stencil

Another way to protect your local water quality is by adopting a nearby storm drain. All it takes is fifteen minutes twice a month to check on and keep your neighborhood storm drains clear of debris. Debris includes things like trash, grass clippings, dead leaves, and other organic pollutants. The only thing that should be going down your storm drain is storm water.

Storm drains flow directly into local water bodies like lakes, rivers, and streams. Water that drops into the drain does not go through a treatment plant for cleaning like the water flowing out of our houses does. That's why it's important to keep our drains clean and clear. Visit Adopt-A-Drain to find an adoptable storm drain in your neighborhood. Once you do, you'll go out to clean the drain twice a month, record the amount of debris you've collected, and log it onto Adopt-A-Drain's website. As you collect, you'll be able to keep track of exactly how much trash you're keeping out of the water channel. You can make a big difference in the water quality of your neighborhood!

Go "Plogging".

A movement that started in Sweden, plogging is the act of running or jogging while picking up trash. It has gained worldwide popularity over the last several years, and is the perfect activity for people who love exercising and the environment.

The "founder" of plogging, Erik Ahlström, assured people that you don't have to be a jogger to be a plogger. Anyone can do it whenever they go for a walk outside. It's a great way for families to connect and teach the next generation the importance of picking up after yourself. If nothing else, you'll be able to log a couple extra steps on your fitbit while you're out and about. If you want to join the social media plogging community, snap a photo of yourself with your bags of picked-up trash and post it to your social media account with #plogging (and don't forget to tag @scottSWCD so we can see and applaud your efforts!)

Lace up your walking shoes, grab an old plastic bag, and make your body and your community a little cleaner.

Identify native plants around you.

Spring has sprung! If you've looked outside recently, the trees and bushes are budding. And each new bud reveals a key identification factor for a plant, shrub, or flower. Can you name any of the plants in your backyard?

One of the great positives of sheltering in place is the free time that people have to learn new skills or hobbies. Why not add a little bit of plant identification to your skill set? Learning about the natural world around you is a fantastic way to feel more connected to it. It gives you even more reason to want to protect it and watch it thrive!

To help start your process, it's helpful to learn the parts of a plant that differentiate it from others. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has fact sheets and general information on their website.

Other helpful tools include free apps you can download that will identify plants for you in real-time. Some of the more notable apps include iNaturalist, and MinnesotaWildflower. These apps will take a photo of a plant in front of you, and based on other user's discoveries and the anatomy of the photo, it will provide you with a list of potential species. Both are available in the App Store.

Get Outside!

It may seem obvious, but this is the perfect time to explore the hidden gems around your neighborhood. Is there a walking path you havent explored yet? A strange landmark you've wanted to take a closer look at? Now's the time! Whether its going for a walk, having a bonfire, or even just sitting outside listening to the world go on, getting outside is a great way to refresh your brain and body.

Stay curious, and do a little something to help the planet this week.


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