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Prairie Ecology Bus Center to mark 20 years

The Prairie Ecology Bus Center is celebrating 20 years of programming along with the seventh annual Prairie Steak Fry at 5 p.m. Monday at the Heron Lake Community Center. (Submitted photo)

LAKEFIELD — The Prairie Ecology Bus Center (PEBC) and the Jackson/Cottonwood County Cattlemen’s Association will host the seventh annual Prairie Steak Fry and celebrate 20 years of PEBC programming at 5 p.m. Monday at the Heron Lake Community Center.

The PEBC is a state-of-the-art school, mobile scientific laboratory and classroom designed to educate schoolchildren and adults about the environmental and natural sciences. The bus is the only one of its kind in the world, though it was modeled after one that once existed in Sweden.

“There are a lot of programs that have classrooms set inside of a bus, but what sets us apart is we are mobile and we are able to take people out and explore,” PEBC Executive Director Chrystal Dunker said.

PEBC operates programs for pre-kindergarten through adult learners, and offers classes and activities all year long. The PEBC staff works closely with teachers to ensure that all learning programs complement classroom curriculum and help students achieve Minnesota environmental education graduation standards.

“The center is also a community building, so the community can feel free to utilize our classrooms for projects they may have,” Dunker said.

The steak fry and 20-year celebration will begin at 5 p.m. with a social hour and silent auction, and the steak dinner begins at 6 p.m.

New to the festivities this year is a live auction fundraiser, wine wall and a PEBC history video unveiling.

“The live auction is for a chance to win a trip to any of the locations at a premier Fairmont Hotel with economy class air for two valued at $5,200,” Dunker explained.

“We also put together a history video, just to show people the progress we have made in 20 years and all of the fun programs we have had throughout those years.”

The money raised at the silent auction of the Prairie Steak Fry usually goes toward the general upkeep of the PEBC. This year, though, the money raised will go toward a long-awaited necessity the center has wanted to include.

“We are raising money to go toward putting bathrooms in the park at the center,” Dunker said. “We obtained another building, so now that we have that building space, we really need to have bathrooms on the site — especially during our winter programs.”

Dunker added that the bathrooms will serve as the center’s storm shelter space, as there are currently no such facilities for people to use during cold weather.

“Since the additional building and where we want the bathrooms to go sit on the city side of the property, we are working hard with city and the county to make this project happen,” she said. “If everything goes well, we hope to break ground this fall.” 

The Heron Lake Community Center is located at 312 10th St. Dinner tickets will be sold in advance; no dinner tickets will be sold at the door. The wine wall tickets will be sold in advance and at the door. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, call (507) 662-5064.

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
(507) 376-7322