School Forest news
Highlights About Our School Forests
Students from the Blackduck School Forest took part in the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour in a variety of ways. In the spring, they created Christmas ornaments to decorate the tree. In May, the Future Farmers of America (FFA) students accompanied USDA Forest Service staff to learn about national Christmas tree qualities and how to search for the perfect tree. Then in October, during the tree cutting ceremony in the Chippewa National Forest, the FFA students ushered guests and helped manage the day's events. A few days later the tree visited the Blackduck School where all students were able to sign the trailer and see the tree. Mark Friesen, School Forest coordinator spoke at the event and highlighted the involvement of the FFA students.
"We've got the whole forest in our hands"
Garlough School Forest hosted the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on its tour to the U.S. Capitol. All 440 students visited the tree and signed their names on the trailer. Students made ornaments earlier in the year and one boy even saw his on the tree during his visit! Students and parents listened to short talks by U.S. representatives Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, West St. Paul mayor John Zanmiller, and state forester Forrest Boe. Three students presented their own pieces created for the event. Then the whole school sang a song written especially for the tree "We've got the whole forest in our hands."
High School Students at Mankato East learned the importance of conservation and restoration projects by learning hands-on in their School Forest. Led by the School Forest coordinator and science teacher, Julia Battern 120 students took part throughout the day, each spending about 2 hours removing buckthorn, a terrestrial invasive species. Randy Schindle, a DNR Private Lands Specialist taught students how to properly remove and treat buckthorn and gave a presentation on famous conservationists. The district's grounds managers supplied equipment and helped remove large branches and trunks from the forest. The project was completed after planting native woodland plants to help reestablish the forest and create a wildlife friendly habitat.
About 100 students from Lake Middle and East Ridge High schools converged on a massive infestation of buckthorn in the 80-acre Bailey School Forest in Newport. First, DNR staff visited the after-school science club to teach about buckthorn natural history, proper pulling techniques, and safety. Then students and parents arrived on a Saturday morning to pull, cut and remove several truckloads of the invasive tree. Participating students earned extra credit points for their service efforts. To make the day successful, the City of Newport provided several adult volunteers to lead smaller groups of parents and students into pre-determined work areas and ensure that the plant was being removed correctly. Adult volunteers applied the herbicide on cut stumps. This is the district's 3rd annual buckthorn pull.