Family Time: Monarchs rule at Quarry Hill butterfly program

Monarch on swamp milkweed

Learn more about monarchs and their migration at All About Monarch Butterflies. Hosted by the Zumbro Valley Audubon Society, in partnership with Quarry Hill Nature Center, this annual event is a longtime family favorite.

"Monarchs are pretty special — even among butterflies, which are all pretty special," said Joel Dunnette, ZVAS member. "These monarchs, those you see flying around during the end of August and the beginning of September, are extra special as they are the ones that will make their way to and overwinter in Mexico."

The evening is split into two programs. The first is geared toward families with young children and includes an up-close look at butterfly anatomy, butterfly crafts and the opportunity to release a tagged monarch butterfly.

"Our first program is more hands-on," Dunnette said. "If you have kids that want to learn about monarchs, but don't want to sit through a long talk, this is the one for you. We want kids to have plenty of opportunities to interact, have fun, and see these beautiful creatures up close."

The second program will begin with a short talk about butterflies in general and then it's on to monarchs and their migration, ending with a short tag and release opportunity.


"The reason we separated the evening into two programs this year is because, historically, it's always been such a popular program," Dunnette said. "The second half of the evening is definitely more adult- and older youth-oriented, with sit and listen presentations. During this second program you'll still get to learn a lot about monarchs, but you'll also learn about some other butterflies, too — some that overwinter right here in Minnesota. Because monarchs are great, but giant swallow tails are pretty neat, too."

The program is free as is admission to Quarry Hill Nature Center. Held rain or shine, pre-registration is not necessary.


If you go

What: All About Monarch Butterflies

Where: Quarry Hill Nature Center, 701 Silver Creek Road NE

When: 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 22 (families with young children), 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (others)

On the web: ,


More about ZVAS

• Can't make it to next Tuesday's program? ZVAS and Quarry Hill Nature Center will host two additional monarch events, Tagging Monarchs at Northern Hill Prairie, on Aug. 29 and Sept. 7, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Family members of all ages are invited to catch, tag and release monarchs. No registration needed. Equipment provided. Details available on the ZVAS website.

• Interested in more than just butterflies? ZVAS hosts free monthly Bird Walks. Appropriate for family members of all ages, the walks are typically held the first Saturday of the month at Quarry Hill Nature Center and are beginner-birder friendly. Visit the ZVAS website for a list of upcoming Bird Walks.

• Want to learn more about a particular kind of bird? On Aug. 25, 7:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., at St. Pius X Catholic Church, ZVAS is hosting a Chimney Swift Sit. Open to all, the Sit is part of a larger Chimney Swifts count with the potential to see hundreds (maybe thousands) of the birds. No registration necessary at this drop in event.


Family calendar

Finders keepers

You never know what you'll find at Whitewater State Park's Intro to Geocaching, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, 19041 Minnesota Highway 74, Altura. Families will meet in the park's nature center then head out with park staff to find a Call of the Wildflower geocache. State Park sticker required, $7 per day, $35 for the year. Bring your own GPS unit or borrow one. Call 507-312-2300 with questions.


Need to know more?There are 81 Call of the Wildflowers caches hidden at Minnesota's 74 state parks and seven state trails. Each cache holds a different, collectible wildflower trading card that highlights fun facts about a Minnesota-native wildflower. Collect 10 or more cards and you'll earn a free pollinator card. Go to for more information.

Puppet show

Take a seat and enjoy the show at Rochester Public Library's Summer Fun at the Library, 10 a.m. Aug. 23. Free for family members of all ages, the Schiffelly Puppets will present Cinder-Freckle-Frog-Faced-Ella. Call 507-328-2303 for more information.

What else?As summer wraps up, so does RPL's Summer Playlist program. Designed to get kids and adults reading and doing (make a new recipe, visit the RPL BookBike, perform a random act of kindness), participants log their reading and doing onto a Summer Playlist log sheet then turn the log into the library, by 1:30 p.m. Sept. 2, for prizes. Go to to print out a Summer Playlist log sheet.

Real-life heroes

Say hello to a hometown hero when a member of the Rochester Police Department visits the Minnesota Children's Museum of Rochester, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, 1643 N. Broadway. Kids of all ages can peek inside a police car and learn what it's like to be a police officer. Free with museum admission of $5.50 for ages 1 and older. Call 507-218-3100 for details.

What's next?The Children's Museum offers free-with-admission, family-friendly programming every week, year round. Up next it's Family Time Yoga, 2 p.m. Aug. 27. Go to for a complete list of upcoming programming.

Turtles, snakes, skinks


Learn more about cold blooded critters at Chester Woods Reptiles Program, 7 p.m. Saturday, 8378 U.S. Highway 14 East, Eyota. Participants of all ages will meet in the park's Kisrow Classroom to learn more about Minnesota-native reptiles (Blanding's turtle, black rat snake, prairie skink) and meet a few in person. The program is free with a park pass, $5 per day, $25 for the year. Call 507-287-7050 with questions.

What else?Chester Woods offers other family-friendly summertime fun, including: overnight camping, a swimming beach, watercraft rental (canoes, kayaks, paddle boards/boats), fishing and picnic spots. Visit to find out more.

What To Read Next
Get Local