Green Crew launches a fungal journey

 Green Crew launches a fungal journey

 John Lamprecht and Wyatt Dayoff Kick-Off Citizen Science Project Focused on Fungi

By Suryash Rawat

On Sunday, May 15, members of the Green Crew from all around Minnesota gathered at the Izaak Walton Chapter House to learn and explore the many fungi found around the world and in Minnesota. The featured speaker was John Lamprecht, the immediate past President of the MN State Mycology Association (and member of the Izaak Walton MN-Valley Chapter).

Project Leader Wyatt Dayoff in the woods searching for ‘shrooms.

Green Crew founding member Wyatt Dayhoff opened the session. He is the project leader of our FunGiS Diversity Study. He shared his love and fascination with the fungus kingdom. He introduced John.

John is the past president of the Minnesota Mycological Society, retiring in 2019 after 6 years. He remains active as the MMS membership coordinator, certification class administrator and instructor, Foray Leader, and a member of three other mycological societies. John has given presentations at the State Fair, several schools, garden clubs, naturalist programs at several state parks, and The Home and Garden Show, and has appeared on a KARE-11 segment with Laura Betker and appeared on Minnesota Bound. 

John Lamprecht was our resident expert.

John was amazing. He was joined by his wife Claudette — who clearly could have done an entire presentation on her own, which would have been different and equally fascinating. (Maybe for a future event?). I did not realize that the classification of fungi not as plants but in their own kingdom is relatively new. The result of this is that there are very few scientists who are trained mycologists and that much of the study of fungus is from botanists concerned about the impact of pathogens on crops. I learned that the “mushrooms” we see are actually the fruit of the fungus. We learned about the different variables for identifying different mushrooms — from habitat to the pattern and color of the spores on a piece of paper. We looked at tons of pictures of different mushrooms we might encounter in the woods. A lot of the talk was about what was edible, inedible, or poisonous. 

Our Crew participants spread out across the woods in a hunt for fungi.

When John was done, he and Wyatt led the group into the nature reserve/trail of the Izaak Walton League in Bloomington, Minnesota, to identify and record the fungi growing in the area. The group was able to record and map out Fungi in certain areas of the reserve to establish an ever-growing list of data points that will be used for future research and walks. 

In this citizen science project, two of the most wonderful trainers went through a delightful presentation on the very different types of Fungi and how to identify and record their presence in the outdoors, our yards, or nature reserves. 

Through the walk done in the Fungal Diversity Training program, the group was also able to identify animal trails and their impact on the sprouting fungi. Many data points were collected through our first Fungal Diversity Training Program; the Green Crew hopes to continue these walks frequently throughout the spring, summer, and fall months to map and record the most recent and available data. With careful observation and records, the data points will be used in many future projects and events in the Green Crew and possibly other organizations.

Through the Fungal Diversity Training, the Green Crew will get more and more people educated and involved. It is our hope to expand the appreciation for fungus, from how it adds to our culinary experience to the essential roles it plays in the ecosystem.  I am so excited that Wyatt Dayoff had the vision to start such a potentially influential and substantial project. 

Events like the Fungal Diversity Training or River Watch will continue to happen in the Green Crew as we work to inspire more and more young adults and teenagers with the passion and commitment to enjoy but also defend and restore the environment.

We invite and hope to see everyone at our next event!


Surayash Rawat is a junior at Edina High School and a member of the City of Edina’s Environmental Committee. He is a founding member of the Green Crew and the current co-leader of the Tree Tree Equity Project.