Visiting the Saint John’s Arboretum during the 2012 AAIF Conference

Saint John’s Arboretum: Abbey Land Stewardship

Saint John’s Arboretum encompasses 2830 acres surrounding Saint John’s Abbey & University.

Since its founding in 1864, the Abbey has been guided by the Benedictine principles of stability, hospitality, and stewardship.

In 1997, this longstanding principle of stewardship led the monks to designate the lands of Saint John’s a natural arboretum. View the Abbey’s current land plans and stewardship projects, explore our lists of plants and wildlife, and access maps of the land and trails.

*The conifers found at Saint John’s are not native.  Planted in 1896 by Benedictine monks, they are part of the oldest pine plantation in the state of Minnesota.                    

Message from Saint John’s Abbey:

“Welcome to the Saint John’s Abbey lands.                                                                        Please respect the land and enjoy your visit as our guest.”

Plant and Wildlife Lists

Located on the transition zone between the prairies to the southwest and hardwoods to the northeast, Saint John’s is home to a variety of plants and animals.

The following lists are not comprehensive. If you’ve seen something at Saint John’s not listed in these pages, let them know! (send us a photo, too, if you can) 


The habitat diversity at Saint John’s allows for a great diversity of wildlife.  Water birds, birds of prey, shore birds, warblers, and many other kinds of birds can be found here, including many rare species such as Sandhill Cranes, Red-shouldered Hawks, Cerulean warblers, and others.

This checklist is composed of 240 species of birds which occur regularly within the state of Minnesota and have been seen at Saint John’s.  The checklist is adapted from Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union. For more information on each species click the highlighted birds found at: 


One of the members of the ecosystem that make the beautiful and wide array of prairie flowers possible are butterflies. As a taxonomical order, Lepidoptera, feed primarily on nectar. As with their cousins insects, Hymenoptera, or bees, they are avid pollinators as they travel from plant to plant seeking nectar from the plants.

In 1995, a study was started at the Saint John’s Arboretum to compare the species diversity on the restored prairie and a virgin prairie that has escaped the agricultural transition. This prairie remnant is an excellent control to see how the restoration project is progressing.

The virgin prairie is in Roscoe, MN located approximately 16 miles southeast of Saint John’s.

There have been many helpful insights that this study has provided the Arboretum with already. Primarily, it has shown how fire, although an excellent means of prairie maintenance in nature, can be detrimental to the insects that are over wintering on the dead stalks of grass. By making this observation, the prairie has been divided into three different parts which are burned in a three year cycle.  At the link below is a listing of several butterflies found at Roscoe prairie, Saint John’s Arboretum prairie, and on the SJU inner campus during the early years of Saint Butterflies.htm 


Below is a listing of several mammals that have been spotted in Saint John’s Arboretum:

Plains Pocket Gopher (Geomys bursarius)

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus)

Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

Whitetail Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

Mink (Mustela vision)

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Grey Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)

Coyote (Canis latrans)

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger)

Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus)

Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)

Woodchuck (Marmota monax)

Beaver (Castor canadensis)

Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus)White-footed Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus)Meadow Jumping Mouse (Zapus hudsonius)House Mouse (Mus musculus)

Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus)

Southern Red-backed Vole (Clethrionomys gapperi)

Short-tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda)

Arctic Shrew (Sorex arcticus)

Masked Shrew (Sorex cinereus)

Long-tailed Weasel (Mustela frenata)

Short-tailed weasel (Mustela erminea)

Cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus)

Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus)

White-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii)

Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)

Black Bear (Ursus americanus)

Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorius)

Porcupine (Erethizon dorstatum)

Cougar (Felis concolor)

Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus)

Compiled by Land Management

This list was begun on August 26, 1995 Stewardship/PlantsandWildlife/Mammals.htm

Prairie Plants

The following link will bring you to an extensive but not comprehensive list of prairie plants found in Saint John’s Arboretum: 

Reptiles and Amphibians

Saint John’s Arboretum is home to a wide variety of amphibians and reptiles, including increasingly rare species such as the Blanding’s turtle. 

The following frogs, turtles, snakes, salamanders, and lizards have been sighted at the arboretum. More species likely exist but have simply not been seen: A list of previously sighted reptiles and amphibians can be found at the following link: Arboretum/Stewardship/PlantsandWildlife/ReptilesandAmphibians.htm 

Northern Hardwood 


Spring woodland wildflowers were planted in the hardwoods section of the boardwalk loop. To see a list of the native species planted in 2001 and 2002, please go to this link: Arboretum/Stewardship/PlantsandWildlife/ Wildflowers.htm  Download a printer-friendly checklist (pdf format) from this link:     

Seasonal ease of viewing codes are provided for the Saint John’s University region at this link.

Saint John’s Arboretum Trail Map 

Hiking Trails are noted on the map at the link above.

The swimming beach is open daily from 12 noon until 7 if a lifeguard is present.

Two canoe landings are shown on the map. No motorized boats can be used.

The map also shows a golf course. Conference fees will help to cover use for the Saint John Facilities.

Two picnic grounds are shown on the Arboretum map. St. Joseph, CSB is approximately 3.5 to 4 miles away from the Arboretum. Three parking lots are shown on the map of the Arboretum. Approximately 12 lakes are shown on the Arboretum map.

        Please respect the land and enjoy your visit as guests of Saint John’s Abbey.

Driving Directions to Saint John’s Arboretum

Take I-94 to the Saint John’s exit.

To get to the Prairie Kiosk:  Go south about 1/2 mile.  The Kiosk is a small wooden structure in the prairie on the left-hand side of the road.

To get to the Arboretum offices:   Continue until the 4-way stop (about 1 mile total) and turn left. Continue for 1/4 mile until the small brown Science Lot 1 & 2 information sign. Turn right and go past the Science Lot 2 entry. Park anywhere in Science Lot 1. The New Science Center is on the east side of the parking lot.

A large pendulum greets you just inside the New Science Center main entrance. Meeting room 150 is to the left and then an immediate right. Arboretum offices are in room 104, 106, 108, and 110.

Arboretum Staff

Tom Kroll  Arboretum Director/Abbey Land Manager 320-363-3126

Dan Vogel  Forest Technician 320-363-3163

Sarah Gainey  Environmental Education Coordinator- preK-12 Education & Volunteer Coord.  320-363-3133

John O’Reilly  Environmental Education Coordinator-  CSB/SJU & Community Education 320-363-2136

Jenny Kutter Department Coordinator 320-363-3163

2012 AAIF Conference at the College of Saint Benedict/ Saint John’s University in Collegeville, MN

   Interchurch Families with Children

•Children are encouraged to attend the 2012 AAIF Conference with their parents as are grandparents encouraged to attend with their interchurch adult children

•Baby sitters for children to be provided if there is an expressed need

•Activities for children to be determined based on their ages. Ages of minor children will be requested on the 2012 AAIF Biennial Conference registration forms

•Adult children of interchurch families are encouraged to attend the 2012 AAIF Conference and to participate in our discussions and to attend AAIF Plenary Sessions

Choice of the Location for the 2012 AAIF Biennial Conference at                                                     the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University in Collegeville, MN

Planners for the 2012 AAIF Biennial Conference recognized that summers would be milder in Minnesota than in the southern states. Many of us wanted to be able to escape from the extreme heat of summer where we live.  Collegeville, MN is in the north, not so far from the Canadian border with the Provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, near Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and not so far from Chicago, Des Moines or Omaha.

At the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University Campus, there is so much offered that meets the criterion for what we have read in

Philippians 4:8 – 9

8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. 

Saint John’s Abbey / University is located in central Minnesota on 2,400 acres of beautiful woodland and lakes just off Interstate 94 at exit 156, about 10 miles west of Saint Cloud and 70 miles northwest of Minneapolis / Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Classroom Teaching Kits

Saint John’s Arboretum provides a variety of traveling trunks for teachers, designed to extend the walls of the classroom with materials and pre- or post-visit activities complementing the onsite field trip at the Arboretum.

In partnership with ISD 742, a grade level specific trunk is available in each ISD 742 elementary building. Trunks are available for grades K-5 and cover a variety of topics.

A variety of other trunks are available at no cost to teachers who bring their students out on field trips to the Arboretum. Trunks are designed for a range of grades and cover a variety of topics.

Contact Sarah Gainey for trunk availability.

ISD 742 Trunk Content Lists

Kindergarten Teaching Kit    1st Grade Teaching Kit

2nd Grade Teaching Kit        3rd Grade Teaching Kit

4th Grade Teaching Kit         5th Grade Teaching Kit

Arboretum Trunk Content Lists




Habitats (grades 1-3)

Habitats (grades 4-6)

Saint John’s Arboretum Curriculum  Areas of Study and Field Activities

Primary Grades K-3

Sensory Exploration and Trees (also appropriate for Preschool)

The Life of Plants


Habitat Exploration – lower primary


  Intermediate Grades 4-6

Minnesota Biomes

Environmental Changes


Habitat Exploration – upper primary

  Middle School Grades 6-8

Environmental Changes


Environmental Issues Investigations

  All Grades

Maple Syrup Exploration

Winter Survival

Winter Animal Tracks and Signs

Other areas of study or activities can be arranged. 

Contact Sarah Gainey for more information.

Saint John’s Arboretum

Saint John’s University

New Science 104

Collegeville, MN 56321-3000

The Arboretum has something for most age groups.                     

For those people who find that of God in creation,                        

the Arboretum may be a place you will wish to explore while                                               

at St. John’s Abbey in July 2012 (320) 363-3163

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