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Minnesotans are a highly skilled bunch, whether pursuing traditional activities like wild ricing and pickling, or tastefully displaying taxidermy, or selecting the right fishing bait. Skills particularly appropriate to Minnesota— such as creating seed art or baking a Bundt cake—may be fully on display at the state fair, a prime opportunity to join with neighbors in celebrating our many talents.Best of all, Minnesotans are eager to share their skills with newcomers or the newly inspired, and for The Minnesota Book of Skills many freely offered their expertise in conversations with author Chris Niskanen. Get the inside scoop from Joe Hautman, who has won four federal duck stamp contests. Learn to sing like a voyageur from Francois Fouquerel, dean of the French Voyageur program at the Concordia Language Village. Grow and harvest your own wheat with Dave and Florence Minar.The Minnesota Book of Skills brings to life the basic know-how that makes us uniquely Minnesotan. Seasonal tips like how to gracefully exit a ski lift mingle with skills your grandparents knew well, such as what to forage for while on a hike. How soon is too soon to bring a child to the Boundary Waters or set her up on hockey skates? The answers are here. Maybe you’ll never carve an ice sculpture or build your own coffin—but isn’t it comforting to know that one handy book offers just the guidance you’ll need?Chris Niskanen is communications director for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and former longtime outdoors reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He is the author of Prairie, Lake, Forest: Minnesota’s State Parks.
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