On May 14, St. Francis Mission school bus driven by Elmer Corbine pulled into downtown Shell Lake. Sister Maryrose accompanied the Kindergarten through 4th Grade students along with teacher aides Sarah Sisco and Laura Hoeft. The bus ventured down the road to the school bus garage on Industrial Drive to park. An average of 35 students jumped off the bus to romp in the woods and the south Monarch Butterfly Habitat. This was a good choice seeing as the children had been on a bus for over an hour. Now they could run and stretch their legs. All along the way the youngsters paid attention as plants were pointed out and uses were explained. They learned that there are two kinds of horsetail and that the plant is used to scrub pots and pans after cooking outside on a fire. Then there was yarrow called squirrel’s tail. The kids got a kick out of seeing how the leaves resembled a wagging tail. They especially liked learning about pussy toes which are soft as a kitten’s foot. Some saw a small butterfly that flitted so fast we were not able to identify it.
The sounds of wind in quaking aspen and spring peepers serenaded us. We named plants in Ojibwe, English and Spanish when we knew the translation. It was a cross cultural learning experience.
Then we boarded the bus once again and headed to the north Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden. I couldn’t help but notice that the children enjoyed the large boulder in area three.
They walked the path in twos respectfully in order not to trample on emerging plants. They especially enjoyed sitting on the memory benches scattered about and having a short rest in the pergola. Afterwards we headed to the Lion’s outdoor shelter for a picnic and play time at the beach and playground. A healthy veggie and fruit snack and fresh apple juice was made possible by a grant from Washburn County AODA Commission.