Marjorie McNeely Conservatory’s Winter Flower Show Now Open

January 26th, 2017

Big thanks to Belinda Jensen and KARE 11 for covering the Winter Flower Show!


YEP Update #2

September 26th, 2016

Fun is Good, right?  Of course!  And good things can be fun, too!  In September, the Youth Engagement Program took a field trip to visit a couple of fun venues that are doing good things.  CHS Field provided a tour highlighting the sustainable practices that help make the home of the St. Paul Saints the greenest ball park in America.  After the tour, we hopped across the street to take in the St. Paul Farmer’s Market.

As you read this month’s blog, you’ll see the appreciation youth have for the wonderful assets this city has to offer.  As we move through this year of programming, the youth will be charged with utilizing their personal assets, team’s assets, and community assets to address various conservation needs.  Stay tuned!

Youth Blog

Recently, we YEPpers took a trip to CHS Field and the St. Paul Farmer’s Market, and it was so fascinating. We got to go behind the scenes at CHS Field and see some of their amazing sustainability features in action. (Thank you to Tom for the great tour!) Afterwards, we headed into the Farmer’s Market across the street to look for fresh vegetables, fruits, and other food items for a group lunch.

The Farmer’s Market was awesome, and I really enjoyed my time there. There were fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses and breads, honey, and more. The atmosphere was welcoming, and I was so impressed by how much good, fresh produce was available for reasonable prices.  This was important for our group, since we were each challenged to buy lunch with just $3. We pooled our money and worked together to find different items we wanted for our meal, and ended up having some money left over. We were all able to eat fresh, locally grown food for not a lot of money – something many people, including myself, don’t always realize.

Usually when we think of organic, ‘healthy’, or locally grown food, we might think that it is more expensive and more of a hassle to buy, but often it is easier than we think. If you’re in St. Paul, the Farmer’s Market is a spot that can’t be passed up.

After we’d eaten, we got back on the bus to Como, and during the ride, I saw beautiful street art on buildings, restaurants and stores and people that showed the diversity of the city, and communities coming together. All these things strengthen and enrich the city and the neighborhoods it includes, and will continue to do so for years to come.

This experience was wonderful, and it led me to realize that being energy conscious, or buying local and fresh produce, was not as difficult or unattainable as I might sometimes think. It helped me see the assets of other communities as well as my own. All in all, it was a great day of learning and getting to see some pretty neat things.


Youth identified street art, festivals and murals as community-building assets downtown.


CHS field is known for hitting it out of the park when it comes to fun.  Did you know the sustainability plan is a home run as well?



The youth enjoy the fruits of their labors after the farmer’s market challenge.  With only $3 each, they pooled their resources to provide fruits, veggies, and even desserts to enjoy at a Union Depot picnic.


Historical Camphor Trees at Como

August 17th, 2016

In 2005, the Nagasaki-Saint Paul Sister City Committee presented Camphor Tree seeds to the City of Saint Paul in honor of the 50-year relationship between the two cities. The seeds came from Camphor/Kusu (Cinnamon camphora) trees located one-half mile from ground zero of the atomic blast in Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945. The trees were stripped of bark, burned, and defoliated, but then recovered quickly and provided inspiration to the residents of Nagasaki who were trying to rebuild their lives.

Photo Aug 17, 11 47 19 AM


Como’s Orchids Scheduled for a Plant Check-Up

January 25th, 2016

Como Friends invests in best practice care to preserve the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory’s collection of orchids

Animals aren’t the only living things at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory that require occasional health care. Just like the polar bears and the penguins, the plants at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory undergo regular check-ups and get plenty of follow-up care, thanks to your contributions to Como Friends.

This year, in fact, more than 1,600 of Como’s orchids will be tested for Odontoglossum ringspot virus and Cymbidium mosiac virus–two common viruses that can devastate cultivated orchids. Working with the plant pathology department at the University of Minnesota, Como horticulturists detected the virus in several plants two years ago, and have been working to eradicate further infection by culling plants that test positive for the virus, and adopting strict sanitation protocols when repotting and tending the orchids.

“While some plants become symptomatic and lose their vigor, some very old orchids that are still blooming have also tested positive for the virus,” says horticultural curator Tina Dombrowski. “We’re being diligent about testing each plant for infection because every orchid we propagate could be perpetuating the virus, and we want to keep our collection healthy. We’re fortunate to have the support of Como Friends which is investing in the test kits we need to preserve a robust and beautiful collection of orchids.”

Every year, Como Friends’ board of directors approves more than $325,000 in grants for projects like this, providing the resources Como Zoo and the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory need to invest in high priority improvements and emergent needs. “It’s just one of the ways Como Friends invests private support into efforts that benefit the collections the public enjoys at Como,” says Como Friends president Jackie Sticha. “Como’s orchids provide so much color and inspiration during the long winters, it’s worth it to invest in their long-term health.”




Escape the Cold in the Conservatory!

January 13th, 2016

Dale K. and Fox 9 stopped by to check out the new Winter Flower Show!