Lessons are learned in an outdoor winter classroom
January 21, 2023
by Jeff Olsen
During Leif Eidsmoe's Forestry Class field trip on January 5 to Hayes Lake State Park, the weather was almost like springtime.
"It was beautiful out, probably 16 to 17 degrees and sunny. One of the few days that we've had sun," he said.
In a trial run to the Roseau City Park right before the Christmas break, the weather had made a significant impression on the students, according to one of the foresters attending the January 5 event.
"We went to the city park and it was like 15 to 20 below. I think they all learned their lesson there. So, they made sure they were dressed appropriately for this one," said Shawn Olsen.
The students were at Hayes Lake State Park for one of their final forestry classes of the semester.
There were two classes consisting of sophomores through seniors, boys and girls.
"This was an end of the semester wrap-up for us," said Mr. Eidsmoe, mentioning the two classes together have 10 girls and 25 boys.
"We went out there and cruised timber. There were seven foresters. We split the kids up into groups, and we measured different groupings of trees. It's what we've been practicing all year."
He credited two of the Wannaska foresters, Shawn Olsen and Hannah Hinrichs, for instructing his students approximately 10 times during the semester.
"They worked with the students on different aspects of cruising timber. So, the kids actually knew this stuff pretty well by the time we got out there."
Additionally, the students were skilled enough to know how to use a lot of the tools and how to measure out their paces to calculate acreage and utilize the GPS units.
"About 12:30, we finished that up and had some lunch and then it was time to kind of relax until the bus picked us up."
One of the activities was dipping a line for northerns.
"I brought my ice auger with and drilled a whole bunch of holes for them," said Leif, estimating that about a half dozen fish were caught, a few photos were taken, and then they were released back down the hole.
Any keepers in that bunch?
"They probably could have kept a couple of the northerns, but none of the kids wanted to."
He tipped his hat to Dawson Wojciechowski, whose wheelchair didn't always have easy mobility in the snow.
"Dawson did good but ended up going on a little different course. He had a couple of buddies who went with him, and he cruised timber just like everybody else. He had a lot of fun."
By the semester's end in January, his forestry students will have participated in a course evaluation about what next year should look like.
"That's actually how this Hayes Lake trip came about. The kids from previous years had said they wanted to go to Hayes Lake. Another year, the students said they wanted to do some fishing at the very end."
He credited the Wannaska Forestry personnel of Shane Delaney, Dale Donoho, Trevor Olsen, Rebecca Rickaby, Rebecca Arnesen, Hannah Hinrichs, and Shawn Olsen for a great job.
"Once again, the foresters came and helped us big time. They donate a lot of time to help our kids understand the importance of trees and what we have. It's really nice that they work with the kids, who get to see a career that they normally wouldn't have much contact with."
The foresters find it an interesting day, too.
"We put a fire ring right in the middle of the parking lot so Dawson could be around it," said forester Shawn Olsen, adding that they cooked hotdogs, brats, and made s'mores.
Consider it a perfect classroom in the snow with absolutely no mosquitoes!