Lake Elmo neighbors are nearly 6 decades apart in age, but united in their care for a murky backyard pond
TwinCities.com Pioneer Press
One little piece of paper changed Haley Jostes’ life.
The note was an invitation to visit a neighbor. That led to a friendship between Haley and the neighbor, 74-year-old Bonnie Juran.
That led to an ongoing partnership to save a neighborhood pond. That led to an interest in biology, and that is leading Haley, 17, to consider studying environmental science in college.
“I am proud of Haley. I talk about her all the time,” said Juran, as the two of them floated in a paddleboat to test the water quality in their Lake Elmo pond.
The two are among 113 volunteers metrowide who check the health of lakes and rivers for the Metropolitan Council. They have become friends, in the process of befriending the pond.
In 2013, Juran was walking one morning when she spotted butterfly eggs by a neighbor’s mailbox. This was her hobby — raising monarch butterflies, from the egg to the caterpillar to the adult form.
On a whim, she left a note in the mailbox. It said that any children in the home were welcome to come over and learn about butterflies at her place.
Six months later, in the dead of winter, 11-year-old Haley showed up at her door. The girl got her first lesson in butterfly development and started visiting regularly.
BEFRIENDING A POND
A year later, Juran took up a new cause — monitoring the health of 9-acre Klawitter Pond in her backyard.
The quality of the pond had deteriorated since 1995, when Juran moved in. “Originally, it was beautiful, bluish in color, with crayfish and turtles in it,” she said.
But runoff from nearby Minnesota 36 trickled in. Salt from the street washed into the pond via stormwater runoff pipes.
Juran began to worry that once she moved out, no one would take care of the pond.
So she invited Haley and neighbor Pat Barrett to help her, forming a three-generation partnership.
They volunteered for a kind of adopt-a-lake program, the Citizen-Assisted Monitoring Program run by the Metropolitan Council. They agreed to take scientific measurements about 15 times a year, so that the Met Council could track the health of the pond.
Haley’s friendships — with Juran and the pond — became part of her life. She studied how to use aquatic plants to clean up the pond, winning prizes in the International Science and Engineering Fair. She just completed her junior year at Stillwater Area High School.