Posted in Star Tribune

Iowa Corn & Wine

River valley holds simple pleasures

  • Article by: KELLY JO McDONNELL , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 13, 2012 – 3:24 PM

This time of year, a mention of Iowa conjures up spent cornfields and soybeans harvests. But lush wine vineyards and rolling hills? Look closer at the northwest corner of our neighbor to the south, and

Photo: Cy Dodson

you’ll be surprised by what you find. Two sister towns, Peterson and Linn Grove, nestled next to the Little Sioux River, offer a charming getaway to enjoy a little history and the simple things in life.


Peterson has the distinction of being Clay County’s first settlement, established in 1856 on the floor of the Little Sioux River Valley. Its neighbor city, Linn Grove, home to a historic dam, has been around since 1910. Both are as picturesque as a vintage Iowa postcard. And both sit right on the Iowa Glacial Trail Scenic Byway, a 36-mile loop that begins in Clay County on Hwy. 10.


Fall suits this corner of Iowa perfectly. To see the area’s splendor up close, check out the wonders of the prairie at the Prairie Heritage Center, a few miles outside Peterson. The center offers environmental education and features a birding bonanza room with crafts and displays, including a section on the folklore of birds and how to “talk turkey.” Buffalo also roam the adjacent 160 acres (1-712-295-7200; http://www.prairie

History is plentiful. Peterson Heritage Inc. can help set up a tour of Peterson’s historical gems — its office is located in one of the historic houses, the Boarding House of 1882. Other sights include the Fort Peterson Blockhouse, a fort constructed in 1862 by Civil War troops, and the Rock Forest School, one of the county’s first frame schoolhouses (1-712-295-8889; www.

Jim’s History Barn in Peterson is an “American Pickers” dream. Owner Jim Hass has filled a restored 1928 barn from wooden floor to rafters with collections of western memorabilia, mounted wildlife, rows of military items from the 1700s through World War II and thousands of other items. Admission is free, and a bonus is that Hass is a font of knowledge on the area’s history (1-712-295-6551; http://www.peterson

Just a few miles from Linn Grove and Peterson farmlands is InnSpiration Vineyard, which covers 6 acres and whose tasting room overlooks a pond. Owners Paul and Sheila Thomsen have created a Midwest wine lover’s oasis, complete with acoustic music on weekends and annual grape stomps. Be sure to try the winery’s Touch of Sun, Squirrely Shirley or 2010 Frontenac Dry (1-712-296-4966;

Normally, the towns of Peterson and Linn Grove hover around a few hundred residents each. But if you roll into Peterson on the first Saturday of October next year, be prepared for the Hiney Wine & Arts Festival, which can draw 2,000 people. Crowds converge on Kirchner Park to browse artists’ wares and taste samples from beer and wine booths.


The InnSpiration Bed-and-Breakfast sits across the pond from the winery, and its four bedrooms feature queen beds, cozy fireplaces and double whirlpool baths. We stayed in the Lake Room, which overlooks both the rows of grapevines as well as the busy farm fields. From your deck, you might hear the soft bleating of sheep from the pastures. Breakfast included eggs Benedict, homemade jams, juice from the grapes and fresh honey from the owners’ beehives (


The area isn’t flush with the sort of dining choices we enjoy in the Twin Cities, but local eats aren’t hard to find. Lon’s Lounge is the place locals mention first for burgers and beer. It opened last October in Peterson’s quiet downtown. You’ll find owner Lon Frerichs waiting behind the bar as you enter. The Lon burgers were a finalist for the area’s “Best burger” in a contest by a local radio station (225 Main St.; 1-712-295-7006).

If you’re looking for a down-home breakfast, head to Sue’s Diner, right across the street from Lon’s (224 Main St.; 1-712-295-6231).

As many locals will remind you, it’s not a bad idea to call ahead before you make a trip. As Jim Hass at the History Barn explained, in this area, “businesses are open by appointment … and sometimes by chance.”


For more information about visitng the region, go to the website of the Clay County visitors bureau at http://www.explore

Kelly Jo McDonnell is a freelance writer based in Lino Lakes.

Posted in Star Tribune

Lake of the Woods

Respite on the Lake of the Woods

  • Article by: KELLY JO McDONNELL , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 1, 2012 – 12:52 PM

With 135,000 miles of shoreline and 15,000 islands, Lac des Bois, otherwise known as Lake of the Woods, deserves its legendary reputation for scenery, fishing and relaxation-inducing powers. But if you can only taste a bit of it, the Sioux Narrows in Ontario is satisfyingly sweet.


The Narrows got its name from the rocky, narrow channel that separates the south shore of Long Point Island from the Canadian mainland. A new bridge on Hwy. 71 has replaced a wooden bridge, which locals say was the longest single-span wooden bridge in the world. A fun little village is anchored on either side — voilà! The Sioux Narrows.


One word says it all: fishing. Lake of the Woods is best known for its walleye population, but northern pike, perch, crappie, panfish, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, lake trout and lake sturgeon also swim the waters. When the temperatures turn crisp, then it’s time to home in on the muskellunge, which are starting to bulk up for winter.

One doesn’t have to be a hard-core fisherman to experience these waters; there are lodges that offer boats and fishing guides who can take you to the honey hole of the day. Our guide was not only savvy at fishing, he knew the region’s history and pointed out abundant wildlife — which is another perk of Lake of the Woods.

Spotting local critters is downright easy here, and it’s a good idea to keep your eyes on the shoreline. The area is home to deer, bear, moose, eagles, wolf, lynx and fox, not to mention loons and many species of songbirds and waterfowl.

Kayakers love the shores of Berry Lake, Dryberry Lake, Black Lake, Blindfold Lake and Andy Lake. There are also many smaller rivers to explore. If you require a little more excitement, a tour company such as Green Adventures can help you out. Located right outside of Kenora, it can set you up to go rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing or paddleboarding (

The Eco History tour offered by Totem Lodge is new this year. It includes a tour of ancient rock paintings and a World War II prisoner of war camp, where Canadians held German POWs. The guides also point out the lake’s diverse ecology, as well as the best wild rice patches and berry-picking spots. Participants, who don’t have to be guests of the lodge, can even add geocaching to the package. (Call 1-800-668-6836 for details.)


The Sioux Narrows area has a healthy selection of accommodations.

We nestled in at Totem Resorts; owners Eric and Sandra Brown also own neighboring lodges Yellowbird and Wiley Point. The cabins at Totem don’t disappoint — they offer the knotty pine, rustic feel but also have such amenities as air conditioning, color TVs and screened-in porches. Our little cabin was charmingly named “Little Joe.” Yellowbird Lodge & Chalet has a more luxurious feel, with a wedding party prepping for their big day on its shores during our visit. Fisherman parties tend to choose Wiley Point, the most secluded of the three (1-800-668-6836;

If you’d rather float, there are houseboats for rent. One company, Floating Lodges of Sioux Narrows, offers sprawling 60-foot houseboats as well as a cute 40-footer complete with picnic table on the top deck (1-800-743-5171; www.


Locals recommend Big John’s Mineshaft. Not only is the food comforting, the view of the lake is fantastic as the Mineshaft sits right on the water at the Narrows bridge (20 Paradise Point; 1-807-226-5224). You can also find locals at the Dockhouse Sports Bar, the hot spot for wings and pizza (Hwy. 71; 1-807-226-3625).

But the Lake of the Woods experience isn’t complete without an old-fashioned fish fry on shore. Ours was included in the trip we arranged through Totem Lodge. The guide prepared lightly battered fresh fish, seasoned potatoes and canned baked beans, all cooked over an open flame, serving us a meal from a true Up North restaurant.


Visitors can find information at and, a site maintained by the Township of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls.

Kelly Jo McDonnell is a freelance writer based in Lino Lakes.

Posted in Star Tribune

From shepherding to fishing….


After 46 years in the ministry, Fitzgerald retired this summer from the Church of St. Genevieve in Centerville. And while he’s scaling back on the “fishers of men” duties, he’s continuing with his other favorite job — fishing for fish.

, Star Tribune

Retired priest goes from shepherding to fishing

  • Article by: KELLY JO McDONNELL
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • August 7, 2012 – 11:02 PM

The Rev. Tom Fitzgerald understands the verse from Matthew’s gospel — “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” — on several levels.

After 46 years in the ministry, Fitzgerald retired this summer from the Church of St. Genevieve in Centerville. And while he’s scaling back on the “fishers of men” duties, he’s continuing with his other favorite job — fishing for fish.

“Fishing can teach us so much,” Fitzgerald said. “You never know if you’re going to get anything. You can’t assume anything. It teaches you that you can’t assume. And it teaches you patience.”

And on days when the fish don’t bite, “you can just be there and fish and enjoy the scenery … and it just feels good to be alive,” he said.

“When you get out there on the lake, it’s just a very peaceful thing.”

Fishing has always been a part of Fitzgerald’s life, dating to no-frills trips with his father as a child.

“My Dad took me fishing at Turtle Lake, and we used to rent a boat for a $1 a day and row,” he said.

“My father was a railroad man, so we could have gone any place on the train, but he wanted to get away from trains on his days off,” Fitzgerald said. “So we went up to Camp Lake by Mille Lacs and we’d fish. That was always our vacation.”

A calling to the church

Fitzgerald, 72, graduated in 1958 from St. Agnes School in St. Paul. He was a counselor at the Catholic Youth Camp (CYC) and attended St. Paul Seminary.

He was ordained in 1966 and served at the Cathedral of St. Paul until 1973, when he was appointed pastor at St. Michael’s in Stillwater. Stillwater was home until 1987, and his next assignment was pastor at St. Rita’s in Cottage Grove.

It was 1999 when Fitzgerald came to Centerville as St. Genevieve’s 23rd pastor. He’s been there ever since.

“I like to set down roots,” he said with a laugh. “It takes a while to get to know all the people. It’s been 13 years at St. Genevieve. I come, I stay, and then I leave.”

Fitzgerald’s love and knowledge of fishing is well known among the St. Genevieve parishioners.

The chef’s secret

He has a reputation for cooking up homemade sunfish dinners after he’s been on the lake. Each year, his sunfish dinner is raffled off at the St. Genevieve’s Parish Picnic silent auction — for big money.

The top bidder gets a sunfish dinner party for eight to 10 guests, prepared, served and blessed by the chef at his lakeside home by the church.

“No secret to it,” he said. “Just grind up saltine crackers, and dip them in there, don’t use egg. It’s a dry batter, but very light. And fry it really hot until brown and crispy. Then you taste the fish, and not the batter!”

Now the retired priest lives in White Bear Township. Fitzgerald said he’s getting used to being able to fish on days besides Thursday, which was always his day off.

“I still help out [at the church], but there’s no responsibility,” he said. “That’s a huge difference. I can preside over the eucharist, but then I can leave. And I do like that every weekend I’m out somewhere new. I get to go to all the other places, and see the different parishes. Every parish is different, and people are people.”

A fish story

Fitzgerald added that anglers are anglers.

They don’t expect to cast nets into the water and pull up fish just because a priest is in the boat. He remembered a day a few years ago when he really wanted the fishing to be good.

A local TV camera crew was tagging along to do a story on the fishing priest.

“It was the worst fishing of my whole life,” he said. “It was just awful. I pulled up one tiny fish, and that was it. But even though I’ve had some really good fishing days, I’ve had bad ones, too. But it’s still fishing.

“If you catch fish, great. If you don’t, well, you don’t. At least then you don’t have to clean them.”

Kelly Jo McDonnell is a Twin Cities freelance writer.

© 2011 Star Tribune

Posted in Minnesota Parent

Polo is the sport of kings….and kids!

Winston Churchill famously once said, “A polo handicap is your passport to the world.” When someone brings up Polo, one may have visions of sleek horses thundering down the grassy fields in London, England, or even Santa Barbara, California and Greenwich, Connecticut. One associates the sport with kings, not kids.

So it came as a surprise that this sport can also be a passport right here in good old Minnesota.  We have our own Twin Cities Polo Club in Maple Plain, and there was a Polo Classic match right around the corner. And surprise! I saw numerous kid events on the roster. I was sold. After all, the sport of Polo has been played for centuries; it was time to experience the thrill of the sport. And the proceeds go for a wonderful cause-the Leatherdale Equine Center at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.

Explaining this to my 9-year-old son, Hayden, was something else. “We’re heading down to Maple Plain,” I explained, “we’re going to a polo match!”  Hayden stared blankly back. I continued. “It’s a game played on horses, and they hit a ball around with a mallet. It’s like hockey on horseback.” He seemed to accept that explanation. “Is it like the guy on those one shirts?” he asked. Ah- Ralph Lauren. Sold.

While the polo matches are played May through September, we caught the 22nd Annual Polo Classic the end of July. It was going to be a hot one, temperatures in the low 90’s and muggy. It was a beautiful drive though, and the polo field wasn’t hard to find among the sprawling pastures. Hayden enjoyed watching the polo players prep their horses in the heat, while I grabbed some bottles of water from the horse trough.

There were many things to keep the kids entertained, from face painting, to jumping in the bouncy tent, to riding a horse-drawn carriage around the grounds. The U of M Raptor Center was on hand, and there were several games set up, all horse related. If your kids are into horses, this was the place to be. Several retail tents were peppered along one side of the field; St. Croix Sadderly, Pink Equine, and Refuge horse farms. There was even a Ralph Lauren “Big Pony Collection” cologne booth, with bright colored bottles with taglines such as “Be a winner! Be part of the team!” Before I could stop him, Hayden had sprayed himself with several of the samples.

The schedule of events seemed foreign to us non-polo people, but sounded fun all the same. Gates opened at 11:00 a.m.; At 12:00 was the Twin Cities Polo Club Youth Match. Hayden loved seeing kids from age 12 and up on the field warming up the polo greens.

“It is wonderful,” said Craig Robbins, Polo Classic Co-Chair, “Our Youth Polo Group, ages 12 up to 20 play in the youth program. The kids learn about the sport, and the youth polo match showcases some of the kids that play. It gives them an opportunity to show what they can do!” I was pleased to see several long ponytails streaming in the wind behind a few of the players helmets. I poked Hayden. “Those are girls!” I exclaimed. He rolled his eyes. “They haven’t scored yet, Mommy”. As if on cue, one of the girl players thundered passed us and chucked a ball right in the goal.

After the Youth Match, we witnessed the Long Lakes Hounds Demonstration at 12:45. We learned that the Long Lake Hounds club was founded in 1959, and is Minnesota’s only hunt. No worries-it’s a “drag” hunt, meaning it doesn’t hunt or involve live foxes; a fox scent is dragged on horseback to simulate the path a pursued fox might take over the fields or through the woods. Hayden enjoyed watching the numerous hounds being corralled by riders around the field. The opening ceremony was at 1:45, and as Hayden put it, “it was time for the big guy polo.” “The Polo Gods are smiling on us!” exclaimed the announcer. Smiling? It was 94 degrees. But I suppose that meant that it wasn’t raining. We were learning.

Robbins directed us to the large Equine Center tent. “It’s a fun community event,” he explained, “ It gives you a change to meet one another, and helps build that community effort.” We nestled ourselves in the shade of the large tent, which had perfect seats along the side of the polo field. It was organized with tables of information on the Equine Center’s programs, which are for teaching, research, clinic care and community outreach for advancing the health, wellbeing and performance of horses. The Center boasts a 60,00 square feet facility that supports the growing University of Minnesota equine program.

Home to nearly 500 state and local horse clubs, Minnesota has more than 155,000 horses- the ninth largest horse population in the United States!

The polo match was fast paced and downright exciting, even though we were still learning the rules of the game. Hayden thought it was a blast to run out on the field at half time for the divot stomp. (I reminded him to stay clear of the steamy divots) I was impressed with the athleticism of the riders. Talk about multi-tasking. And the agility of the polo ponies was equally impressive. It’s not uncommon for the horses to reach speeds of 35 mph while still being able to turn on a dime. By the end of the match, Hayden announced that he thought Polo was “cool.”

As we drove back to the cities, I reveled in the feeling that my son and I had enjoyed something completely new…and we learned a thing or two along the way. I could still smell the faint scent of Polo in the air.

The Polo God’s had indeed smiled on us.Image

Posted in Prime Magazine

Jewish Family Services

Prime Magazine – FOCUS


Everyone knows the saying “Home is where the heart is.” And no one understands this better than an aging adult, struggling to stay in the home they love. But there’s a program through the Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City (JFS) that under- stands how important the home is to aging adults.

Help@Home is a program JFS launched in 2008 which is popular with participants. Dawn Herbet, Director of Older Adult Initiatives for JFS, explained, “It’s a membership-based program which gives members access to community handymen, 24/7, to do minor home repairs, some chores in their home and computer troubleshooting. There’s also access to occupational therapists that come out once year to make sure our members’ homes are safe from falls and slips.”

Dawn explained that the agency’s mission has always been to support and strengthen the Jewish and whole community by providing essential programs and services for individuals and families cop- ing with crises and life’s everyday challenges. JFS was established in 1901 when five volunteer relief agencies united to legally incorporate themselves. The agency’s mission is to help others, regardless of race or religion. “We are open to the whole community,” stressed Dawn. “We work towards the Jewish value of tikkun olam, meaning ‘repairing the world.’”


The popular program proves to be the missing safety net for many aging adults age 65 and older, or those with a disability. Over 90 percent of participants surveyed said the Help@Home program has allowed them to stay in their homes longer than they thought they could. “People just love the program, and it allows them to feel more independent,” explained Dawn, “They can remain in their homes they love, and have been in for many years. It gives them a feeling of security. They get to know the handymen, so it’s another measure of safety. They know who’s coming to their door.”

Services in the program include: minor home repairs; chore services; one-on-one computer troubleshooting; educational programs throughout the year; free membership in Johnson County Community College’s Brown & Gold Program; and a discounted monthly fee for Home for Life Solutions, an electronic safety and assurance service offered through John Knox Village.

Help@Home not only helps the participant, but also their ex- tended family. Program participants have someone they can call day or night, and it’s a relief for the family members who may be trying to care for their aging parents, as well as raising their own families. Dawn shared, “It offers peace of mind that we’re available 24/7, so anyone having a problem can call any time. And if there’s something going on in the home that’s beyond the scope of what we can do, we refer them to reputable contractors.”

Dawn said they are always looking to help others in the community who are wanting to age in place. There is a monthly fee for the program, but it’s based on a sliding scale. It can go as low as $5 a month to a maximum of $79 a month, depending on the household income. “There’s a very easy financial form to fill out and as soon as I get their paperwork back, I run the numbers and we see where they fall on the scale,” explained Dawn. The member can then use the service as many times a month as they need with no additional labor charges.

The program has one full-time staff person, and two part-timers. Help@Home also uses volunteers in the community to support their paid staff. Dawn said JFS is always on the lookout for more volunteers for Help@Home.

Another popular program that’s rewarding for volunteers is the JET Express volunteer driver program. This program, started in 2008, provides safe, personal, door-to-door transportation for adults age

The popular program proves to be the missing safety net for many aging adults age 65 and older. Over 90 percent of participants surveyed and evaluated said the Help@Home program has allowed them to stay in their homes longer than they thought they could.

65+. Members can use this service for rides to the doctor, dentist, hairdresser, grocery store or any activity which keeps members active and independent. Riders pay $2.50 each way, and rides are provided by volunteer drivers in their own vehicles.

“It has a huge impact on the rider, and the relationships that form between rider and driver are so amazing!” exclaimed Dawn. “The driver gets so much out of the experience. The JET Express program is also currently looking for more volunteers. “All volunteers must be 21 and older, have a clean driving record, and undergo a background screen and drug test,” explained Dawn. “There’s a training session and we reimburse 33 cents a mile. We have a web-based scheduling program which makes it very convenient for the driver to choose whatever ride they want, whenever they want, and volunteers can drive once a week or once a month.”

Dawn recently received a phone call from someone who had signed up for the Help@Home program. “I love it because I can hear the happiness people feel when they know they have someone they can depend upon. I hear their gratitude, and they’re genuinely appreciative. I feel like I’m doing something good for the community.”

“I hope these programs are available when I get to be that age!” enthused Dawn. p

For more information on JFS, call Dawn at 913-327-8239 or email You can also visit the JFS website at

Posted in Star Tribune

Start your adventure at the end of the road

Start your adventure at end of the road

  • Article by: KELLY JO McDONNELL , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 23, 2012 – 1:02 PM


Early Saturday morning on Crane Lake on the Minnesota-Ontario border, a peaceful place to fish walleyes was easy to find. The fish, anglers found, bit fairly often.

Sometimes the best destination is at the end of the road. This is no truer than at Crane Lake, Minn., the southernmost lake of Voyageurs National Park, which sits right at the end of the U.S. highway system. A sign towers over the last few feet of Hwy. 24, reminding that this is “The End of the Road.” But the end of this road is a good thing. And you don’t have to be a hard-core fisherman or camper to enjoy all that this area has to offer.


The first thing you’ll notice about Crane Lake is that the highway ends and the waterways begin. Literally. Crane is the closest entry point to Voyageurs for almost all Minnesota visitors. It’s connected to Rainy Lake, Kabetogama and Sand Point lakes to the north. To the east, Crane Lake is a gateway to the lakes of Superior National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Quetico Provincial Park. From Crane, you can travel by water about 60 miles in several different directions. And if you’re up for a few portages, you can go at least 1,000 miles.


Fishing … fishing … and more fishing. Crane Lake is home to several fish species, including walleye, northern pike and bass. The bait shops are chock full of locals with advice. If you tune into your marine band radio each morning, you’ll hear up-to-date tips on fishing hot spots, as well as the nearest wildlife sightings. There are also local guides who can be worth their weight in panfish to folks coming into the area to fish Crane for the first time. Bring your own boat, or keep it simple and rent a pontoon, fishing boat or houseboat right on Crane. The Visitor Bureau website offers information on fishing and a list of outfitters and resorts that offer rentals.

Crane is also perfect for other water activities, including swimming, scuba diving, canoeing and kayaking. It’s one of the smaller lakes in the park, and one of the most rugged, with hundreds of sheer rock walls and picturesque narrows. Between Crane Lake and Sand Point Lake you’ll find narrows that are the most photographed spot in Voyageurs National Park. This early May, the water was already a crisp 62 degrees — warm enough for kids to launch themselves off the end of the docks, and calm enough to take an evening canoe or kayak trip along the shoreline in search of wildlife. Loons, eagles, deer and otter are seen frequently, while moose, black bear and wolves tend to be more elusive. Folks can bring their own kayaks or canoes, or rentals are available at several locations on Crane Lake.

If you’re looking for a hiking excursion, head to Vermilion Gorge on the west end of Crane Lake. The trail is 3 miles long, and after 10 minutes on the trail, hikers will run into Vermilion Falls, where the torrent of water is forced through a 10-foot-wide opening in the granite. Boardwalks around the falls offer breathtaking views. (

A visit to the Vince Shute Bear Sanctuary can make for a memorable outing. It’s a sanctuary to dozens of bears, operated by the American Bear Association, in the town of Orr, a 35- to 40-minute drive from Crane Lee. A large viewing deck allows visitors to observe the bears in their natural habitat (1-218-757-0172;

Scotts resort offers a charming one-stop shopping excursion for visitors and floatplanes. Owners Darrell and Carole Scott have created a wonderful shop packed with mementos and gifts, as well as products made by artists in the area. Don’t forget to say hello to “Norton” the northern pike, a local favorite who looms under the Scotts’ dock. (1-218-993-2341; http://www.scottsoncrane


There’s no shortage of places to stay on Crane Lake. Check for listings.

Voyagaire Lodge and Houseboats has private lake cabins and is the only place that rents houseboats on Crane Lake (7576 Gold Coast Road; 1-218-993-2266; There’s a houseboat to fit any size, including a whopper Voyagaire 550, whose main deck is 990 square feet and includes a hot tub. All new houseboat drivers are trained by Voyagaire’s staff.

If pitching a tent is more up your alley, four outfitters offer camping and RV sites right on Crane Lake. For more rustic camping and some solitude, head deeper into Voyageurs Park. The campsites are accessible only by water, and classified as tent, houseboat or day-use sites. All are marked with signs. Permits are required for overnight stays, and can be obtained at any park visitor center or boat ramp. Find camping information at

Were to eat

If you don’t want to be hassled with packing staples for a camping or houseboat trip, Voyagaire Lodge offers food provisioning. There are a handful of restaurants on Crane, at Nelson’s Resort (7632 Nelson Road), Scotts Seaplane Base (7546 Gold Coast Road) and Trail’s End Resort (6310 Crane Lake Road, Buyck, Minn.). Voyagaire also has a restaurant on the main level of the lodge, offering fresh walleye and a superb margherita pizza.

Reminder: While dining in Mother Nature’s restaurant, be sure to pack your food away so as not to entice an unwanted guest to your table.


Find the Crane Lake Visitor & Tourism Bureau at and Voyageurs National Park at

Kelly Jo McDonnell is a freelance writer based in Lino Lakes.

Posted in News

John Madson Fellowship Winner

June 12, 2012

McDonnell, Pollmann receive 2012 OWAA Madson Fellowships

MISSOULA, Mont. — Outdoor Writers Association of America selected Kelly Jo McDonnell and John Pollmann as co-recipients of the 2012 OWAA John Madson Fellowship. The fellowship is an annual grant program that funds continuing education opportunities for OWAA members. This year’s recipients will share the total award of $2,500 for reimbursable expenses related to attending educational opportunities of their choice.

McDonnell, of Lino Lakes, Minn., is a writer and TV producer for Ron Schara Productions and has been with the company for 16 years. TV segments air on NBC, Fox and Outdoor Channel. McDonnell is also a freelance writer of outdoor-related features for the (Minn.) StarTribune. A member since 2011, she is the daughter of late long-time OWAA member Jim McDonnell. She will be attending the Travel Writers Conference in Corte Madera, Cali., this coming August.

Pollmann, of Dell Rapids, S.D., is an educator and freelance writer and photographer. He has had credits appear in the Ducks Unlimited e-newsletter, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Delta Waterfowl Magazine, Pheasants Forever, Minnesota Outdoor News and other outlets. Pollmann has been an OWAA member since 2008, and will be attending OWAA’s Goldenrod Writing Workshop in Missoula, Mont., in July.

OWAA’s Madson Fellowship is funded through the John Madson Fellowship Fund, an endowment that thrives primarily through OWAA member contributions and fundraising efforts. Its goal is to enhance professional communication skills for OWAA members. The fellowship program is designed to honor the legacy of John Madson, one of OWAA’s most talented, respected and honored legends. Applications are evaluated by a committee of past OWAA Jade of Chiefs conservation award winners.

For more information on the Madson Fellowship, visit

OWAA is The Voice of the Outdoors®. The Outdoor Writers Association of America is the oldest and largest association of professional outdoor communicators in the United States. It was organized in 1927 by members of the Izaak Walton League of America and includes professional communicators dedicated to sharing the outdoor experience. OWAA’s professionals include writers, photographers, outdoors radio- and television-show hosts, book authors, videographers, lecturers and artists. The association is headquartered in Missoula, Mont. For more information, contact Robin Giner, executive director, Outdoor Writers Association of America, 615 Oak St., Ste. 201, Missoula, Mont. 59801; 406-728-7434,;