Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Walking in the Forest with Walbridge School

Last week we hosted our friends from Walbridge School for National Walk in the Forest Day. The day, promoted by American Forest Foundation and Society of American Foresters, is an opportunity to engage the community in nature and explore all the benefits of forests. Teaching others about sustainable forestry is one of the goals of Arington Tree Farm, so we welcomed this opportunity to share our woods!

Partly sunny skies and 70 degree temperatures greeted the students as they arrived that morning. (We had originally planned the day for Friday, Oct. 19 -- which was 45 and rainy! Good call in rescheduling!) Borrowing a page from Aldo Leopold's lesson plans, we structured the day around the principles of "observe, participate and reflect."

We started the day off with a walk in the woods - a great way to observe. Arik engaged the students in a tree identification activity, using leaves to identify trees. It was a fun activity and many wildlife sightings (cranes, geese, a stray cat!) made the walk even more exciting.

A majestic Bur Oak, approximately 150-200 years old.

The dry summer resulted in trees producing extremely large leaves!

Arik and I then put our training as Land Ethic Leaders to use, leading the students through a reflective conversation on Stewardship in Your Community. We used the song "Big Yellow Taxi" as our common object from which to base the discussion. The kids seemed to enjoy it, and as our first time "facilitating," I think it went really well!

After a break for lunch (and cookies... it's not a trip to the farm without cookies!), we put the kids to work for the "participate" portion of the day. The older students hauled firewood that was cut during the chainsaw safety course a couple weeks ago, while the younger students worked on piling up willows that Arik had cut prior. The unseasonably warm sun made for hot work; we're grateful to have had their helping hands!
Students making piles of willows. The willows will be mulched for use on trails around the farm.

It was another fun day with our friends from Walbridge. Thanks to the students and teachers for coming out and enjoying our woods! Also thanks to the Aldo Leopold Foundation for co-sponsoring the event.

Walbridge students and staff participate in a work project.

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