Braving frigid temperatures, students from the Youth Eco Solutions team at Northern Lights Community School donned snowshoes to learn firsthand about their school’s woodland during the YES! Forestry Workshop on March 10. The workshop was organized by YES! regional coordinator Deb Groebner; instruction was provided by Rachael Olesiak, Research Plot Coordinator at the University of Minnesota’s Cloquet Forestry Center.
Olesiak used hands-on activities to teach students how to identify tree species, distinguishing between species that like shade and those that require sunlight, and species that grow well in wet areas compared to ones that prefer dry soil. The group practiced making a tree planting grid by considering plant spacing and how to protect growing trees from grazing animals. They also practiced using compasses and pacing in order to flag the plot for planting.
After exploring tree species, the team discussed which ones they might want to plant at school for their Arbor Day project. Students suggested incorporating sugar maples so that future generations of students could learn about maple syruping and the long relationship that people in Minnesota have had with the trees. NLCS teacher and YES! coach Amanda Hakala was proud of her team. She said, “it showed they were not only thinking of themselves and the work they would do but also what students could learn in the future as well!”
ABOUT YES! (Youth Eco Solutions)
YES! empowers Minnesota youth in grades 7-12 to create solutions to today’s ecological challenges through community-based, hands-on action projects. YES! is a program of Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in partnership with Ney Nature Center. Major funding is provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), LYFT Career Pathways, Waste Management, and Great River Energy.