Discovery Middle School students to plant Pollinator Habitat Garden – Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA — Since Discovery Middle School in Alexandria became a designated Department of Natural Resources Forest School several years ago, teachers have had the opportunity to bring many outdoor learning experiences to their students.

Experiences included setting up docks and trails, in addition to adding trees and outdoor learning experiences.

This spring, students will build a pollinator habitat garden, thanks to a grant from the Sand County Foundation’s Pollinator and Monarch Habitat Grant Program.

The grant was recently awarded to the school, and teachers Morgan Olson and Lukas Gotto will spearhead the program for a new eighth grade elective class, The Great Outdoors. Gotto said they plan to partner with Jeff Pokorney’s environmental and agricultural science classes at his Alexandria Area High School.

He said all the essentials needed to get started in the garden arrived a few weeks in advance, including six packages of native species, a large container of starter seeds to plant in the area, and a small container to start the plants. It said it contained 640 containers.

Lucas Gott

Currently, 6 types of native plants are planted. The seeds had to be planted, Gott said, mixing the seeds with a moistened inert material and then “tricking” the seeds so they overwintered. The seeds will germinate, grow when you take them out of the fridge, and will be ready to be planted in the ground outside this spring, he said.

“We will be selecting a two-acre site at our school forest discovery to plant this spring,” he said, adding that pollinator species are now in all of the lost habitat. Faced, he added, pollinator gardens have a positive impact on the environment. “Because pollinators are the species involved in virtually all pollinations, adding this habitat is very important. Yes, even more so.”

According to Gott, Olson completed a two-week “Pollinator in the Science Classroom” course offered through the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus last summer and plans to share the knowledge and resources he’s gained from the experience with students. .

You can also add another habitat to the school forest by creating a pollinator garden. Students can learn from the garden and community members can enjoy it.

“Currently, the 54-acre School Forest has three of the four Minnesota biomes and recently received another donation from the DNR to plant hardwoods this spring, making it Minnesota’s fourth and final biome. says Gotto. “Overall, we have a very unique space and we continue to add to it every year. We hope our community can get out and enjoy nature as much as our students do.”

The Sand Foundation has awarded pollinator habitat grants to 21 high school agriculture and science programs in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Each school district or FFA chapter received $1,000 to help prairie seeds and seedlings, consultation, and project costs.

“Insect pollinators are essential for crop pollination and ecosystem diversity. ,” said Haley Diem, School Grants Program Coordinator for the Sand County Foundation. “Applicants are encouraged to work with landowners to establish pollinator habitat on farmland and other working lands.”

Pollinator Habitat Grant Program sponsors include Syngenta, Enel North America, Monarch Joint Venture, US Forest Service International Programs, Wisconsin Public Service Foundation, and We Energies Foundation.

Educators and landowners interested in participating in the project are encouraged to contact Diem at for more information.

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