Get Into the Holiday Crafting Spirit

Nov 16, 2020

Make your own wreath: Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center provides boughs and know-how.

The holiday season is an important time for fundraising at the Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center (BLELC). For two decades, the nonprofit has held an annual Christmas tree cut. And its popular wreath making workshops at the Glensheen mansion have typically sold out.

In 2020, the community events can’t happen due to pandemic restrictions. But that’s not deterring Director Ryan Hueffmeier. “COVID-19 has shown us time and time again that we need to adapt and get creative,” he says. “We decided to not let it get the better of us. So, we have come up with a contactless, social distancing way to provide our wreath making experience.”

This year, the BLELC is selling wreath making kits for people to assemble in the comfort of their own homes, enabling this fun family tradition to safely continue. All materials (besides the wreath frame and wire) are sustainably harvested on Boulder Lake’s 18,000 acres.

Photo of hands making a wreath

The kits contain a metal wreath frame (10” or 12”), balsam fir boughs, wire, and accents (pine, spruce, dogwood, and cones). A “how to” instructional video link is included along with suggestions on how to creatively utilize leftover balsam scraps and find additional materials to decorate the wreaths such as birch bark (never harvest from a live tree) or high bush cranberries.

In addition to supporting BLELC programming with a kit purchase, this is also a chance for people to participate in nontimber and sustainable forestry practices. Hueffmeier explains that balsam fir is a shade tolerant, late successional tree that has a relatively short lifespan (averaging about 90 years). It tends to grow under red and white pine stands and has the potential to be a ladder fuel tree that brings fire up into the crowns of mature pines. Harvesting and thinning balsams during the holiday season not only assists in fire management, it provides a regional economic resource.

Purchase a Wreath Kit

Kits are on sale now. The cost is $25 for a 12” wreath kit or $20 for a 10” wreath kit. Online ordering is available.

On December 5, there will be a contactless pickup at the BLELC Bear Paw parking lot from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Directions.

To make arrangements for a different pick-up date, contact: [email protected]du

*For an additional $10 fee, staff will deliver kits within 25 miles of the ELC.

Wreaths will be sold until Christmas or until sold out, whichever comes first.

Make a Donation to BLELC

Donate directly to Boulder Lake ELC programming, bus funds, or internship stipends.

Donations of canoes, kayaks, snowshoes, fishing gear (summer and winter) and camping gear are also welcome.  If you have items that you think BLELC could use, send an email to [email protected].

Student worker in the forest at Boulder Lake harvesting balsam boughs

Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center is a part of the UMD College of Education and Human Service Professions. The nonprofit provides comprehensive educational programs that contribute to increased understanding and appreciation of natural resource management practices through the Boulder Lake Management Area which provides an interpretive window to showcase resource management and hydropower generation in a working forest, and illustrates the many social, biological, and economic benefits of that forest.