Posted by: csdailyblog | November 5, 2009

Shared Earth Symposium

nancy, jennifer, megan, rachel, natalia

Art Teacher Nancy, Jennifer, Megan, Rachel, and Natalia are armed and ready for farm work.

On Wednesday, November 4, Conserve School held its annual Shared Earth Symposium, during which the whole school community takes an entire day to focus just on the environment. This year’s symposium theme was “Neighborhood Stewardship.” Nine groups of students and staff members spread out across Land O’ Lakes and nearby communities to help our neightbors and help the environment at the same time. Here is the list of projects undertaken:

1. Fall Clean Up at a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) Organic Farm Graduate Fellow Margie Rychlock’s family farm is in Three Lakes, a 45-minute drive from Conserve School. A lucky group of staff members and students helped with harvesting the last of the vegetable crops and cleaning up the garden for the winter. They then enjoyed a bountiful meal made with the farm’s organic produce and free-range chickens.

2. Land O’ Lakes Elementary School Education Outreach This group of students planned a field trip to Conserve School full of environmental education and activities for the local 5th grade class. The visit is planned for the early spring.

3. Land O’ Lakes Library and Museum Garden Clean Up Conserve School students and staff visited the town library and historical museum to pick up trash on the grounds, prune bushes and trees, cut down perennials, and collect leaves in preparation for the winter.

4. Highway Clean Up Conserve School cares for a nearby stretch of Highway 45, and this was the perfect opportunity for a crew of staff and students to clean it up.

5. Slash Removal Students and staff cleared dry, dead limbs and brush from areas in the Conserve School forests that had particularly heavy concentrations. Removing this material helps prevent forest fires. The past few years of drought conditions have made fires in the Northwoods a greater danger, and keeping our forests in good condition helps reduce the chance of fire both on our own property and on neighboring property.

6. Conserve School/Sylvania Border Trail Students and staff widened and cleared brush from the trail along the Conserve School/Sylvania Border. Clearing the trail area will serve two purposes: 1) helping in fire prevention and 2) helping make the campus border more obvious for students.

7. Staff Gauges in Conserve School Lakes A small group of especially hardy staff and students donned waders and braved the cold lake waters to install staff gauges in campus and border lakes. Staff gauges allow accurate measurement of changes in lake depth. Data collected with these gauges will be added to a growing database on the changing depths of Northwoods lakes.

8. Picture a Greener Planet This group visited local community members who help the environment on a day-to-day basis, including rangers in the Ottawa State Forest and a local architect who specializes in designing green houses. Students interviewed and photographed these individuals and created a presentation highlighting their expertise and dedication.

9. Nature Conservancy Invasive Species Eradication Students and staff joined forces with Nature Conservancy volunteers and specialists from the DNR and Forest Service to remove invasive Asian honeysuckle in the nearby Tenderfoot Forest Reserve. Each student was paired with an adult volunteer or specialist, and the pairs worked side by side throughout the day. Students reported that they were delighted with the opportunity to spend so much time chatting and working with professionals who specialize in environmental issues.

Despite cool temperatures, each of these activities was a true success — students and staff enjoyed working with one another, the organizations we helped were delighted to have the assistance, students learned more about specific steps individuals can take to support the environment, and we were all inspired to remember that small steps like these really do add up to make a difference for the planet.

Here is a thank you email we received this morning from the Nature Conservancy:

On behalf of The Nature Conservancy, I want to extend a huge THANK YOU for all of the work you and your Conserve School crew did (and endured) cutting and treating the invasive honeysuckle at the Tenderfoot Reserve today. You guys were awesome. All of the professionals who also helped out today expressed at great length how impressed they were and how much they enjoyed working with you and the students. It was a great day, and I appreciate so much all that we accomplished. 

The day started with an inspirational presentation by Science Teacher Andy Milbauer on the themes of Neighborhood Stewardship and making a difference one step at a time. This presentation was followed by a thought-provoking activity created and led by students Shay and Casey. The Symposium finished with a casual and fun after-dinner assembly, emceed by Jaclyn and Megan, during which each group shared stories, photos, and presentations about the day’s activities. Kathy Jones, Math Teacher and Educational Technology Coordinator, provided technology support for the presentations, and Job and Angie were behind the scenes running the sound, lights, and projector.

 See photos below:

I’ll be posting more photos as well as some of the student presentations from the day’s end. Stay tuned.

Mary Anna


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