Coronavirus/COVID-19 Information

Page updated 9/21/2020

Carpenter Nature Center recognizes the importance of keeping our visitors and community safe during these challenging times. In response to the growing threat of the COVID-19 virus, we are doing our part to be proactive by making temporary changes in our operations based on guidance from regional medical experts, the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health.

Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions related to our current operations:

Is Carpenter Nature Center open?

Carpenter Nature Center’s trails are open to the public daily:

Minnesota Campus Trail Hours – 8:00am to 4:30pm

Wisconsin Campus Hours – Sunrise to Sunset

The Visitor Center on the Minnesota Campus is open, including access to restrooms, from 8:00am to 4:30pm daily.

Masks are required to enter the building (per MN Executive Order 20-81). If a visitor does not have a face covering, there are disposable masks available at the entrance for their use.

The number of visitors in the building at any given time is being limited in order to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

When inside the building, please maintain physical distance from other visitors.

Staff and volunteers are frequently disinfecting commonly touched surfaces in the building in order to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

Additionally, there is increased security on both sites to ensure the safety of our visitors, and to maintain the well-being of habitats and wildlife.

How do I practice physical distancing in outdoor spaces?

Am I allowed to bring my dog to CNC?

You are welcome to bring your furry friend to CNC. In order to ensure the safety of all visitors and animals at CNC, please follow these guidelines:

Is Carpenter Nature Center still holding public programs?

A variety of public programs are currently offered. These programs are designed to take physical distancing and current regulations into account and foster the physical and mental health of our visitors, staff, and volunteers. We will continue to closely monitoring the circumstances surrounding the pandemic, and make programming decisions in accordance with recommendations from both state and national health officials.

We ask that participants please do the following when attending our programs:

  1. RSVP to the program ahead of time by calling 651-437-4359.
  2. Pay in advance, or bring a check or exact change.
  3. Face coverings are required when indoors (per MN Executive Order 20-81) and encouraged when outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  4. Maintain six-foot distances between other participants when possible.
  5. Stay at home if you or a household member is sick.

For a list of currently offered programs, and updates about possible program alterations, postponement, or cancellations, please visit:

Is Carpenter still planning on holding major events later this year?

Although the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are constantly changing, we have plans to host some of our major events with modifications based on current recommendations of medical professionals, the CDC, and our state government.

The St. Croix Golf Scramble was hosted at the Hastings Golf Club on July 20th. Several modifications were made for the event in order to protect the health of our participants. Modifications included the elimination of indoor portions of the event, staggering tee times for participating teams, and providing hand sanitizer and PPE for participants. The weather was favorable, the company was excellent, and although the world is full of turmoil right now, participants were able to escape from their troubles for a few hours to enjoy a round of golf in support of CNC!

The Carpenter Art Festival is being postponed until August 2021. The inherent, close-quarters nature of festivals like this makes maintaining physical distance and proper disinfecting very difficult. Although if may have been possible to modify the event, we were concerned that the stringent protocols that would be required would compromise the calming, charming, friendly atmosphere of the event. In lieu of of a festival this year, we will be releasing a series of virtual gallery videos featuring the work of our participating artists. Follow our Carpenter Art Festival Facebook page for updates.

Thank you for joining us for our FREE Autumn in the Valley VIRTUAL Gala! on Sunday, September 13. We are so appreciative of everyone who was able to tune in to watch the program, bid on auction items and donate to our Fund A Need. With your help, we were able to raise over $76,000 to support Carpenter’s mission, programs, and staff this coming year. Thank you! Here is a special message from CNC Executive Director Jennifer Vieth, and Board of Directors President, Paul Gerbec: If you missed the excitement, you can watch the Gala video program at the CNC YouTube page. If you didn’t have a chance to show your support on Sunday night, there’s still time to donate to the Fund-a-Need, which you can do by clicking here.

The Raptor Release, hosted at CNC in partnership with The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, is being postponed until September 2021. This event draws THOUSANDS of people to CNC every year, and gatherings of that size are currently a threat to public health. Although we are saddened to be postponing this event, we are certain that it is in the best interest of our partner organizations, visitors, staff, and volunteers. We look forward to seeing you all next year!

Unfortunately we will not be hosting our Annual Apple Festival this year. With Covid-safe practices still in place, we feel the best decision for the safety of our staff, volunteers & visitors is to postpone until next year. We appreciate your continued patience and support.

There are still plenty of ways to get out, explore and support CNC! Our apple shack is open Wed-Sun from 10 AM – 5 PM. We also have U-Pick every Wednesday. If you would like a deep dive into the orchard, join us for our Family Field Trips! There are still 3 orchard classes left on Oct 10th, 13th & 17th with many other topics running through the winter. For more information head to

What online learning opportunities is CNC currently offering?

Now more than ever, nature is proving vital for our mental and physical health. Though we are not able to provide our usual programming during this time, we are committed to providing educational and entertaining resources for you to enjoy either outdoors or from the comfort of your home. From livestreams to take-home activities, we are finding creative ways to come together virtually to continue serving our community during this challenging time.

Listed below are example of some of the fun activities that you can find on our Nature News page:

Also be sure to check out our Facebook page to see videos of our previous live streams including a raptor meet & greet and a critter feeding session. Our WI Campus Facebook page has also been live streams of peaceful nature moments, and will be sharing fun phenology facts and updates about what’s happening on the site.

Keep checking our website and social media pages to see what we come up with next!

How can I support Carpenter Nature Center during this time?

During this time of crisis, we understand that many families are struggling with financial insecurity. Spending time in nature is one of the most beneficial, stress-reducing, free activities available to our community at this time. It is our intent to keep the trail system open and available, free of charge to visitors, unless we are advised to close by officials.

As a private, non-profit organization, Carpenter Nature Center heavily relies on donations from generous supporters. If you are able, please consider making a donation, either online through  GiveMN or PayPal, by becoming a Friend of CNC. Support from our donors is what enables us to educate families, conserve wildlife habitat, and support the physical and mental health of the community.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has several provisions which encourage charitable giving. The CARES Act allows individuals who take the standard deduction on their taxes to make a cash contribution of up to $300 (made to qualifying charities) and deduct the contribution “above-the-line” in computing adjusted gross income (AGI). For those who itemize deductions, the CARES Act allows charitable cash contributions to be deducted up to 100% of AGI for 2020 (as opposed to the previous deduction limit of 60%). In addition to cash contributions, contributions from IRAs, donor-advised funds, and donations of appreciated stocks (or other assets) still might be your most cost-effective method for charitable contributions if you feel compelled to give. Talk to your financial advisor about which form of giving would be most financially beneficial to you.