Colleen Graue says she hopes to put down some roots here in the Devils Lake community as she begins her new job as the Visitor Services Manager at Sullys Hill National Game Preserve.
She brings with her a wealth of experience and education including working for Fish and Wildlife here in the Lake Region from 1998 to 2003.
So she knows the area already and can appreciate what she is getting into.
Graue comes from a small town in Minnesota near Wadena. She’s a 1995 graduate of the University of Minnesota in Wildlife Management as was her husband, Mike, as well. He presently works in Devils Lake for Fish and Wildlife.
The Graues have two boys, one is a second grader at Sweetwater and the other is in preschool.
Thursday was only her sixth day on the job.
She’s excited about the position and has some great ideas to expand the Friends of Sullys Hill and the times the Visitors Center is open - even in the Winter.
“Wouldn’t it be great to be able to do some Christmas shopping in the gift shop?” Graue asked.
“Or to have a wildlife-theme arts and crafts sale or display in the Visitors Center where local artists and artisans can display or sell their hand-crafted items that have a woodland or wildlife theme.”
he said she thought of that when she was attending the craft sale in the Holiday Mall this fall.
Also, she’s hoping to see more volunteers to lend a hand with the many events at the preserve, the Winter Festival, Birding Festival and the education outreach.
This winter, she said, the gate will remain open from 8 a.m. until sunset so people can still visit the preserve, but the Visitors Center will only be open perhaps one weekend a month. If volunteers can be found to keep it open more than that, she says that would be great, too.
This fall they added kayaking on Sweetwater Lake which has joined with Devils Lake pretty much. And they added a “floating” boardwalk along the lower hiking trail so hikers can go much further than they could since the lake devoured much of the lower reaches of the preserve.
Lucky fifth graders from Central Middle School spend their school day out at Sullys Hill in a hands-on learning environment that can’t help but stimulate their love for learning and nature. Graue says she enjoys working with the students and hopes to see the program expand. Even her own son, she says, is counting the years before he might be eligible to attend school at Sullys Hill.
You’ll have an opportunity to meet Graue on Dec. 15 as they are planning a special day at the Visitors Center. There will be snowshoeing, maybe some craft activities and the gift shop will be open so shoppers can find some special gifts just in time for Christmas.
Page 2 of 2 - Tim Loose, who has been acting as manager at Sullys Hill since Tom Ibsen left in early August, will continue his involvement with the preserve, too, and together with Graue they bring energy, enthusiasm and lots of good ideas that will help everyone appreciate Sullys Hill whether it’s their first visit or their 100th.
The road from Devils Lake has been improved, raised and now, paved, that should make the trip out much easier, Graue says. Next spring and summer will see more road construction, but not nearly to the extent that the past two, three years have seen. That should make a difference in numbers of people heading to Sullys Hill, as well.
Looking forward into the future, both near and distant, Graue is optimistic and enthusiastic about Sullys Hill. That’s good news for all who treasure the place and the animals that call it their home.