9:10 Departure (with some issues) – After a quick reminder to students (“This is your last flushing toilet for 6 hours!”), we loaded the bus to begin our Boreal Forest day. Unfortunately, just as this was happening, we realized that we were short some necessary tools. Thankfully, we were able to rob Mr. Parrish’s garage to get the necessary supplies (ladder, hammer, nails). We grabbed what we needed and were soon onto Highway 105; and then on to Dixie Lake Road before we knew it! As an added bonus to a day in the Boreal Forest, we’ve also got amazing summer weather (clear skies, warm temperatures and not a hint of wind!). Spent about 1.8 milliseconds thinking about all you parents in offices today! 🙂
10:00 Burned, Seeded and Trimmed – Our first stop was amazing! We stopped about 6 kilometers up Dixie Lake Road for our first look at the Boreal Forest. The selected area was part of the 1980 Red Lake Fire. Although both sides of the road had been aerial seeded, the south side had been trimmed in 1990. The north side had been left to take its natural course. After a quick chat with our MNR “Teachers-for-the-day” (examining natural and human disturbances to the ecosystem) , we broke into two groups. Students then participated in a hands-on activity to find proof of the 1980 fire and the subsequent planting and trimming. It was so neat to see the students learning in this discovery-based manner.
10:52 Beaver Dam and Marsh – We’re just leaving the beaver dam area. In this small eco-region, we saw examples of how the beaver had cut down trees, built their dwelling and altered the water flow. A couple of the students worked with MNR representatives Myles and Robert to place a wooden duck house near the marsh.
1:00 Forestry Activity – We’re just leaving the foresting operation and we have learned a hundred new things (well, at least I have!) Here’s just a brief summary:
– A ‘feller-buncher’ machine cuts the trees down, then collects them in bunches; some of the operators use GPS to guide their work
– Forest harvesting is conducted in a similar manner to how a fire would burn in an area, bush and trees are left untouched so that regrowth can occur
– Businesses and government work in partnership to provide economic benefits to a region, while at the same time, ensuring that the environment and ecosystem is protected
– Industries, like forestry, provide many jobs to people in our area; many career paths are available to individuals interested in forestry (loggers, short and long haul drivers, machine operators, accounting, business administrators, conservation officer, forestry workers, mechanics, safety investigators, occupational health and safety workers, planners, machinists, road maintenance crews…the list goes on and on!)
After learning a lot about forestry operations, we took some time to take some great photos (both individuals and group photos). The students found some neat foliage, and Myles and Robert answered questions as they came up!
1:20 Red Pine reforestry – Spontaneous stop at a Red Pine planting area and another to view another piece of forestry equipment (see above photo).
2:30 Bus ride home – Two students are sleeping, and my eyes are heavy after a great day in the Boreal Forest. As I look back on the day, I’m excited by the learning that has taken place today. I have enjoyed seeing the students take their learning outside the classroom. I’m excited that some of the students might consider careers in the forestry or environmental sectors. I’m thinking of ways to take the learning from today even further. What a great day!