Northwoods Adventure Winners

Northwoods Adventure

By Ellen Lambeth

Congratulations to Tanya Overbeek and Henry Burns, both 10. These two were winners of the 2023 Craig Tufts Educational Scholarship!

Tanya OverbeekThat means each–with an adult family member–got to attend the Family Nature Summit, a week-long outdoor education camp. For free! Last summer, the Summit was in northern Minnesota.

Tanya and Henry returned with similar stories about their favorite Summit experiences. One was getting up close with water birds called loons. Henry loved hearing their haunting calls at night. Tanya  learned that loons can be poisoned by accidentally swallowing lead sinkers lost from fishing gear. Back home, she began making posters to warn people about the dangers of lead tackle.

You may have heard Minnesota called “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” That explains all the fun freshwater activities, including fishing, kayaking, launching the “Loon Pontoon,” and more. “The lake was sparkly, and  the air smelled of pine needles,” Henry reported. Tanya remembered paddling past a rocky island coated in white because of all the gulls hanging out there. “We nicknamed it Poop Island,” she said with a grin.

Henry BurnsAnother favorite adventure was a visit to a local museum. There, the kids learned about the Indigenous people—those who were first to live in that region. “The Tribes survived the  seasons with nature’s help,” Henry said. Tanya agreed. “They stripped tree bark for many uses, such as to cover their tipi homes. But they did it only in the season when the bark could grow back,”  she explained. “They knew how to respect nature.”

By attending the Summit, these two winners have become even more motivated to take care of the environment. Tanya wants to come up with  ways people can stop using up so many natural resources. Henry plans to continue studying animals and then teach others about them.

Both winners made new friends at the Summit and hope to attend the 2024 adventure in Arizona. Henry was very thankful for the experience that few get to do. “But,” he concluded, “I wish everyone could!”


Craig Tufts Award 2024

Craig Tufts was the chief naturalist at the National Wildlife Federation, the group that publishes Ranger Rick. Learn more about Craig.

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