Area youth learn in the field about their ecosystem

Mason Davies releases the banded bird while his classmates look on, l-r: Jon Hakala, Gracie Pointer, Cora Olson, Jacob Towley, Gabriel Pointer, Mason Davis, and Dave Grosshuesch of the U.S. Forest Service.

On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, area sixth graders (Ely, North East Range, and Tower-Soudan) participated in the first annual Boreal Forest Field Day. The event was organized by Lake Vermilion – Soudan Underground Mine State Park (LV-SUMSP) staff and it was held at Bear Head Lake State Park. The students spent the day at the park learning about different aspects to this unique ecosystem we call home. The event was the brain child of James Pointer, interpretive supervisor at LV-SUMSP. Pointer stated, “I had seen other field day programs around the state and thought our students should have the same opportunities.”
The event consisted of seven stations, through which the students rotated during the day. The stations included different scientific aspects related to the boreal forest. “Our youth needs to spend more time outside. This event was designed for them to learn about science in a hands-on way, while being in the great outdoors,” said Pointer.
The event was made possible due to the wonderful volunteer support from local agencies and organizations. There were students from Vermilion Community College that assisted with the forestry, worm watch, and water quality stations; the International Wolf Center led a program on radio telemetry; the US Forest Service conducted a session on bird banding; the DNR led sessions on forestry, land management, and fish; and the Ely Field Naturalists assisted with the aquatic invertebrates/water quality station. “It was exciting to see the college students teaching the sixth graders, as it helped demonstrate that people do go to college to study science,” said Pointer
The main goals of the program were to introduce students to science in a hands-on manner and to give them a positive experience in the outdoors. Pointer said, “This was a pilot year for the event. Based on the responses we have received and from what was observed during the program, we definitely plan to offer this again. There are some adjustments that need to be made, but overall the program was a huge success.”