Inaugural Minnesota POTA Day a Success

Inaugural Minnesota POTA Day a Success

The beautiful State Parks of Minnesota were alive with the buzzing sounds of ham radios as hams gathered to participate in the inaugural Minnesota POTA (Parks On The Air) Day – sponsored by the Stillwater Amateur Radio Association. This event aimed to activate as many Minnesota POTA entities as possible during the statewide free admission day to Minnesota State Parks.

A Day of Connection and Community

Minnesota POTA Day is part of the larger Parks On The Air program, which encourages amateur radio operators to set up portable stations in state parks. The goal is to make as many contacts as possible, sharing the beauty of these natural locations with fellow operators around the world. Operators enjoyed perfect weather, with clear skies and moderate temperatures making for an ideal day in local parks.

Connecting Families with radio

One of the participants at the W0A site was Brad Lahr, KF0LIH, who was first licensed in early 2023. He was participating in Minnesota POTA Day with his wife Amy, WW0AMY, and their two sons, Declan, KF0LMY and Corwin, KF0OZR – all from Lakeland, MN. “Coming out to POTA and things like this really helps practice your operating skills and learn your equipment,” says Brad.

The W0A park activation was at Oak Creek Savannah SNA (US-10725) which is an almost hidden park right in a Bayport, MN neighborhood. There is no signage and if you didn’t know it was there you’d likely pass it by. But that’s one of the neat aspects of POTA – it gets you out exploring places you never knew existed.

The W0A POTA activation site at Oak Creek Savannah SNA (US-10725)

“I think it’s interesting to come out and do Parks On The Air like this,” said Declan, KF0LMY. “It’s kind of a unique park,” he added. He and brother Corwin we’re excited to be making contacts for their POTA activation on 2 meters from a hill in the park. They shared they really enjoy using FT8 during their activations.

“I like that you can push a button and call CQ and you can respond without having to write down callsigns. The computer does it for you,” said Corwin, KF0OZR.

Group photos featuring operators from the W0A site in Bayport, MN for MN POTA Day.
Back Row: Collin, KE0IYN, Brad KF0LIH, and Amy WW0AMY
Front Row: Declan, KF0LMY, and Corwin KF0OZR

Bringing together the Minnesota POTA Community

Hosting Minnesota POTA Day is a great way to bring together the Minnesota POTA community. It gets operators out in the field and gives them the chance to build community with other operators. Activators were encouraged to take time at the top of the hour to work “local” stations on 40 meters and 80/75 meters. This allowed park-to-park contacts within Minnesota while also working regional stations across the Midwest and southern Manitoba and Ontario.

One of the Twin Cities most popular parks lit up with activity on Saturday thanks to Dale Henninger, W0DHZ, and Connor Seemann, KF0HAE, who were on the air from Fort Snelling State Park (US-2482). Dale and Connor were active across multiple bands making contacts and chatting with members of the public who stopped by to ask questions.

Dale, W0DHZ, and Connor KF0HAE operating from Fort Snelling State Park
Connor, KF0HAE, and Dale, W0DHZ, operating from Fort Snelling State Park (US-2482)

“I think it’s a great thing for ham radio and a great thing for the Minnesota POTA community for us to get outside and take advantage of the free State Park passes,” said Dale, W0DHZ. Dale and Connor were enjoying the great weather despite a few pesky mosquitos. “It was a beautiful day to be out. Getting everybody outside activating parks, it just shows how strong the Minnesota POTA community really is,” he added.

Beyond the focus on making contacts, Minnesota POTA Day emphasized community and education. Many parks allowed experienced operators to share their knowledge with newcomers, demonstrating various equipment setups and offering tips on making successful contacts. This spirit of mentorship and camaraderie was evident at Fort Snelling State Park as Dale, W0DHZ, helped Connor through his first POTA activation.

“Definitely more I need to learn,” said Connor. “But something I definitely want to get more into and build my own portable rig I can do this from in parks or summits,” Connor added.

Connor, KF0HAE
Connor, KF0HAE, checking the SWR on the Buddipole antenna

Resounding success

Minnesota POTA Day 2024 was a resounding success, combining the thrill of amateur radio with the beauty of Minnesota’s state’s parks. With countless contacts made and new friendships formed this event once again proved to be a highlight for the amateur radio community in Minnesota. As we look forward to next year we encourage Minnesota ham radio operators to consider participating in this fun event!

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