Area briefs: John Schneider is Austin's Teacher of the Year

Whitewater State Park closing for special deer hunt; art exhibition in Red Wing features Minnesota artists.

John Schneider.JPG
Banfield Elementary School teacher John Schneider was named 2022 Austin Teacher of the year. Contributed photo

AUSTIN — John Schneider, a teacher at Banfield Elementary School in Austin, has been named the 2022 Austin Teacher of the Year.

“It is humbling to be recognized along with so many great teachers at Austin Public Schools,” Schneider said. "I love my family at Banfield and I also feel that this award is for them too. Everyone puts in the extra time and effort to make the best educational experience possible for our students.”

Schneider is known for encouraging his students to “be kind and show compassion and empathy to those around them, do their best and try hard every day, and know that when things don’t go your way or are hard, those are things that make us better.”

Schneider, who has been teaching for 26 years, will now move on to the state Teacher of the Year competition, which entails developing a portfolio and creating a video application.


Whitewater State Park to close for special deer hunt

ALTURA — Whitewater State Park will be closed to visitors Nov. 20-21 for a special deer hunt intended to keep the deer population in check.

"Too many of one animal or plant species in an area can start to throw off the balance of other species in that area,” said Tavis Westbrook, a natural resource program coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource's Division of Parks and Trails. “When there are too many deer in a park, they feed too much on certain trees and native plants, so occasionally we allow deer hunts as a way to protect natural resources."

Hunts also will take place at other Minnesota state parks and recreation areas this fall, and access to the parks will vary. For a list of parks and recreation areas that are open, partially open or closed during the 2021 hunting season, go to .

Red Wing Arts exhibition to feature 52 paintings of the season

RED WING — Paintings by plein air artists Hannah C. Heyer and Andy Evansen will be the focus of an exhibition titled Close to Home opening Nov. 26 and running through Jan. 10 at the Red Wing Depot Gallery.

Close to Home was inspired by Heyer and Evansen’s desire to share their observations over the course of a year that found all of us closer to home than ever. Heyer’s oil paintings and Evansen’s watercolors document the seasonal shifts in Southeast Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin, an area filled with rolling farmlands, bluffs along the Mississippi River covered in deciduous trees and big skies.

Heyer, from Dakota, and Evansen, of Hastings, will display 26 paintings apiece that mark the transition from the cold blanket of winter to the melting of spring; the humid greens of summer to the first pops of autumn color.

An artist reception, free and open to the public, will be held from 5-7 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Depot Gallery, 418 Levee St.


Ruby's Pantry changes suggested donation price for food

AUSTIN -- Starting with its Nov. 18 distribution, Ruby’s Pantry – which donates food to those in need at 90 sites across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa – will be asking for a donation of $22 per bundle of food.

Volunteer coordinators ask for exact change to help keep the line moving with a minimum of delays.

The $2 increase is to help with increasing transportation and storage costs. In Southeast Minnesota, Ruby's Pantry operates in Austin, Rochester and Zumbrota.

Election integrity discussion offered Tuesday

ZUMBROTA — A discussion of the history of election integrity in America will be featured Tuesday at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Zumbrota.

Attorney Kim Crockett with American Majority and the Freedom Club will talk about the history of changes to election laws, what happened in 2020, and what you can do about it. State Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, also will share his experiences with voter fraud in Minnesota. Doors open at the church, 1549 East Ave., in Zumbrota, at 6 p.m., with the program beginning at 6:30 p.m., and questions and answers to follow.

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