Students learn stewardship in field classroom

By Henry Miller
Special to the Times

You’ve probably heard that teenagers these days are lazy and will do anything to avoid work. Don’t believe it. Two grade 8 classes from Fort Frances High School laid that impression to rest. Over two days, they worked continuously planting trees in a gravel pit. The task was not easy as the soil consisted of hard clay, gravel, stones, and sand.

What were they doing in a gravel pit? The pit was being reclaimed by the Crown, but before that happened, it had to be planted with trees.

The work was done under the guidance of the Rainy River District Stewardship Council members Tony Elders, Ralph Hill, and Don Dickson, along with Judy Tucker. Elders had contacted grade 8 teacher Jody Bonner-Vickers, who had planted trees with classes previous years and was always looking for a site for planting. Bonner-Vickers enlisted support from the board’s Experiential Learning Coordinator Rob Donaldson to cover transporting the students to and from the site.

The first class began the morning of May 25, with Elders showing how the trees should be planted and Bonner-Vickers organizing pairs of students to place flags in lines and plant along a line. By noon the class had planted half the pit and took time to cook their lunches over campfires. The afternoon saw a lesson on tree ecology, a lesson on building a signal fire if ever lost, and how to find dry wood to start a fire.

The next day, teacher Brad Gushulak arrived with his grade 8 science class to plant the remaining trees, under the guidance of Ralph Hill, as well as mulch the seedlings planted over the two days. Youth stewardship member Cleo Reynolds also joined the crew. These students showed great citizenship in assisting with this tree planting project.