After taking over the programming of the Conservation Building exhibits at the Olmsted County Fair in 2014, Andrea Kiepe said she hopes to continue with the success of the exhibit hall with the 2015 version.
“I’m sort of hoping to build on what we accomplished last year,” she said.
Kiepe, the Rochester clean energy organizer for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, said the Conservation Building at the fair has become a labor of love since she took over organizing the displays last year.
“I was contacted by Terry Leary, president of the fair, last year,” Kiepe said. “She wanted someone to spearhead filling the Conservation Building.”
So Kiepe worked with other nonprofits in the conservation field to bring an educational, fun and informative program to the fair. She’s back with many of those same organizations and more for 2015. The 2015 Conservation Building will feature organizations and businesses such as Conservation Minnesota, Solar Connection, Quarry Hill Nature Center, Rochester Environmental Commission, The Audubon Society, Minnesota Master Naturalist Rochester Chapter and Friends of Chester Woods and Oxbow. And, of course, the Sierra Club.
“Chester Woods will come with the raptors they’ve rehabbed, on Tuesday and Thursday nights,” Kiepe said. “Solar Connection is doing a night on residential solar. And The Audubon Society has a lot of really good materials on helping children identify birds.” And, she added, Olmsted County Environmental Resources will show off their plug-in Toyota Prius.
One of the challenges, Kiepe said, is making sure each booth has staff coverage during the whole fair since nonprofits tend to be understaffed and overworked.
“Between me and some of our great volunteers, we’ll have someone in the building at all times,” she said. “Because this year we’ll have more activities.”
One addition for 2015 will be the “Free-Range Kids” area at the Conservation Building. The space will provide an area where children can go to “unplug” and use their imaginations with some recycled items such as blankets, appliance boxes, clothes pins and other materials that allow for some old-school creative fun.
“So many times parents and kids go to the fair and get overstimulated,” Kiepe said. “The Conservation Building is cool place where parents can relax and learn while the kids cut loose in the Free-Range area.”
Taking part in the fair and visiting the many exhibits is a fun, traditional experience everyone should enjoy. It’s a taste of small-town America,” she said. “And it’s great to see how people are so cooperative and helpful in the environmental community,” she said.