Almost a year has gone by since my last Tiger Talk and what a year it has been.

Pine River-Backus Community Education has not been able to offer its many opportunities for learning, enrichment or activities in the traditional sense. However, that is changing as we evolve to create new opportunities for our community.

Community Ed will continue to strive to enhance, educate, entertain, enlighten and enrich all who live in our community through collaboration and programming.

One such collaboration with Region Five has created an amazing opportunity to get to know the many cultures represented in our community. Region Five, in association with the Pine River Welcoming Communities Advocacy Group, will offer a virtual cooking series through PR-B Community Ed called Cooking and Cultural, A Virtual Experience with Food.

Cultural connecters, often accompanied by a local chef, will guide participants in the creation of fun, tasty, ethnic/culturally based meals. Throughout these at-home cooking experiences, stories and insights will be shared highlighting the importance of food in culture, and how sharing a meal can connect us.

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Allow yourself to be transported through discussion and foods represented by those in our community while connecting to the diverse culture around us. Each participant will be given a menu or food kit to create a unique meal at home while watching a prerecorded chef and cultural connecter in a lively discussion around the food and the culture being represented.

This series is made possible with support from Region Five Development Commission and the Northwest Area Foundation.

Over the next few months, we will have seven unique dishes represented by different cultures living here in our community. Our first cultural representation is from the Philippines making a Chicken Adobo and sharing with us the Filipino cultures and traditions.

Every two weeks a new dish and culture will be represented, including: Squash and Wild Rice Bake, Ojibwe culture; Bulgogi, Korean culture; Milanesa Al Pan, South American culture; Chicken Adobo, Filipino culture; Traditional Korean Meal, Korean culture; Shepherd's Pie, English culture; and Taste of Africa, African culture.

Upon registration, you will be given a menu and a link to view the prerecorded sessions with our cook/cultural connecters. After each class, you can complete a short survey that will enroll you in a drawing for a prize at the end of the series. To register online, go to prbschools.revtrak.net.

Some additional opportunities available in our community include:

  • Ice skating at the local Pine River rink. This is one of the great parks in Pine River with a full-sized hockey rink and a large area for general open skating around the rink. The park includes a warming house, a fire ring with firewood and plenty of parking for families to enjoy outdoor activities.

The rink is open seven days a week from sunrise to 10 p.m. For those who do not have their own skates, some are available for checkout through PR-B Community Ed. Be sure to take advantage of our local rink before the ice is gone!

  • Snowshoeing is another great option for activity and maintaining social distance. If you want to get outside, exercise and enjoy Minnesota winter, Community Ed has adult and youth snowshoes available for checkout. We have multiple trails available to us throughout the state and our local area.

Snowshoeing allows you to get off the trail and explore an entirely different world. Remember to always keep your safety in mind, know your limits, go prepared and bring a friend.

I hope you all have a chance to enjoy some of these opportunities as we move forward into the new year - welcome 2021.

Troy Gregory is Pine River-Backus Community Education director.