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Adults and children of all ages are encouraged to participate in the Irving & John Anderson County Park Scavenger Hunt from now until Sept. 7, either in person or virtually.

“The scavenger hunt is a unique way to introduce people of all ages to Anderson Park,” said Isanti County Parks Director Barry Wendorf. “Whether you are an adult, child, family, or even unable to get to the park in person, this program is designed for everybody.”

The hunt can be done in person, at home, or virtually. Participants can visit the park itself, search for the hunt items in their own backyards or peruse through the Irving and John Anderson County Park on Facebook.

“The scavenger hunt is designed to get kids and families outside, preferably in a park or on a trail,” said Lee Kingsbury, chair of the Friends of Anderson Park. “Together they try to find all 14 items on the scavenger hunt sheet, which entails exploring areas they might not have before as well as in more detail. They must answer a question about each item. For example, if they are to spot a bird or mammal, they are asked, ‘What is it doing?’

“They are also encouraged to snap photos of certain items and send them with their entry. It’s fun, it’s learning about and exploring new things and looking closer at things you might know, but haven’t looked at as closely lately or experienced them together with others,” Kingsbury added.

For those who wish to participate virtually or complete the hunt in their own backyard, scavenger hunt forms can be found online at www.parksandtrails.org/hunts/#anderson; for virtual participants, photos of the items are on Facebook on the Friends of Anderson Park Isanti County MN page.

“To participate in the hunt people need to print out or download the materials and instructions on their phones,” Kingsbury said. “They’ll also need to decide whether to complete the hunt in-person at the park or do a virtual hunt using the Anderson Park photos on our Facebook page and hunting in their own backyard or neighborhood.

“The hunt lasts until Sept. 7, when all entries are due. Two prize drawings will take place, one for a gift from the Friends of Anderson Park and a grand prize from the Parks and Trails Council of MN,” Kingsbury added.

The event is sponsored by the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota, as well as the Friends group.

“The Friends of Anderson Park is lucky to have the Parks and Trails Council of MN as our fiscal agent. They provide this important service to many Friends groups affiliated with state, regional and county parks and trails. Their mission is ‘to acquire, protect and enhance critical land for the public’s use and benefit’ and they have done that for Isanti County with helping with the purchase of a key piece of land for Anderson Park,” Kingsbury said. “During the COVID-19 shutdown, the (Parks and Trails Council of MN) staff developed the scavenger hunt and offered it to their affiliated Friends groups.”

The choice to host the scavenger hunt at Anderson County Park was obvious for the Friends group, not only because they support the park, but because of its versatility and abundance of activities available within the park itself outside of the hunt.

“Anderson Park offers so many activities so close to home. There is something for everyone; it’s a birding hot spot, has beautiful trails through the prairies with many unique flowers during different seasons. It offers two lakes for canoing and kayaking. The woodland trails and their benches are great for quiet contemplation, bird-watching and spotting loons, turtles and otters on the lakes,” Kingsbury said. “There are quiet cross-country ski trails in the winter and a favorite place for kids and families is the natural play area and climbing hill.

“The most popular spot, though, is the large log picnic shelter. You never know whether a small family picnic will be in progress or a large reunion or a wedding or a birthday party – for people of all ages,” Kingsbury added.

Friends of Anderson County Park

The scavenger hunt, along with many other activities at the park, is facilitated by the Friends of Anderson Park group, composed of very passionate people who dedicate their time and efforts to the success of the park.

“The Friends of Anderson Park formed when a group of neighbors to the park hosted a community meeting after learning that the Anderson Farm was sold to the county and was to become parkland,” Kingsbury said. “People who attended the meeting had lots of ideas about what they wanted the park to become. Those ideas were prioritized at a second community meeting and a smaller group volunteered to write things up and work with the parks director to bring them to fruition. This smaller group decided to develop a mission statement and started meeting with the parks director on a regular basis to discuss development of the park and program planning with a focus on the ideas and recommendations from the community meetings. It became the Friends of Anderson Park Leadership Team.

“The mission of the Friends of Anderson Park is to preserve the natural beauty and primitive nature of the park and to assist the Isanti County Parks Department with the planning, development, maintenance of facilities. We have a mailing list of approximately 150 ‘friends’ who attend programs, visit the park, or want to learn about what’s happening at the park,” Kingsbury added.

Over the past 12 years the group has met and worked side-by-side with Wendorf to facilitate events and maintain the park.

“We’ve worked closely with Barry Wendorf, the parks director, on work days (clearing trails, removing invasive species), planning programs (bird hikes, plant exchanges, the annual Fall Festival), raising money for special projects, advocating for the park — some examples — for the park to grow, or to offer certain programs, forming partnerships with other groups (Audubon, North Branch Garden Club), producing newsletters to keep a growing group of park users informed about the park’s development and programs, and helping to develop two master plans to guide the development of the park,” Kingsbury said.

For more information on the Friends of Anderson Park, follow Friends of Anderson Park Isanti County MN on Facebook, or contact them by email at friendsofandersonparkmn@gmail.com.

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