Before the school year ended, we have had a busy week on the trail. The weather was finally on our side.
We ordered a two-yard load of crushed rock to hold the cedar posts. Logan and Max dug two different two-feet deep holes with a spade that Brandon’s family loaned us. Logan had to remove some rocks and cut through some weedy roots as he was digging the holes.
On Thursday, June 6th, we installed the posts into the holes filled with crushed rock. This should insure that during the wet months and the winter, the cedar posts don’t suffer rot. We have leftover crushed rock, so we began putting down a layer at the mouth of our trail. Also, we will have enough to put a layer down beneath the benches that we plan to put on the trail and in the education area located at the end of the trail.
On Thursday, it was all hands on deck as the entire sixth grade was out on the trail raking, shoveling, hauling the wheelbarrow, and enjoying the trail.
Lydia has become our expert on invasive plants. She has led two “tours” through the trail and educated fifth and sixth graders about the invasives in our trail area: Japanese Knotweed and Tree of Heaven, in particular. She is getting ready to lead the younger students through the trail next week!
The mulch is on its way. This will cover most of the trail where there are roots that might cause younger kids to trip. A local sign company is working on our educational signs, to go on top of our posts. Lastly, fifth and sixth graders have been creating a brochure based on work they have done in Mrs. Dunham’s science class over the last two years on invasive species.
We are happy to be able to go out on the trail and enjoy the sound of Valley Brook, wade in the stream, and watch birds and butterflies. Summer is almost here!
Weeks later, it was finally time to wrap up our project that our students have been working so hard on for months! After our work “party,” which was a time that the mulch and gravel were laid, and the bench installed, the final week of school was a time to celebrate the new trail and share it with the younger students. Sixth and seventh graders lead educational tours using the Nature Trail Kit purchased with funds from the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
We had “extra” funds due to a surprise donation of our buddy bench by FairCape Woodworks in Rockport, Maine. So, in addition to a beautiful, hand-crafted bench made from native Maine white cedar, we have an incredible trail kit for the elementary teachers to check out and use for nature-based education activities. The kits have everything from magnifying glasses, specimen collection nets and jars, tweezers, and bird guides to first aid kits and whistles! We also stocked them with nature journals for sketching and reflection.
This project would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the hard-working students at Strong Elementary school, as well as the Natural Resource Council of Maine middle school grant program and the generous donations made to us by FairCape Woodworks.
Black Bear Nature Trail is finally now open to the school and community, and is a great place to begin learning about watershed protection, invasive species, as well as to relax, listen to the stream and bird watch!
That’s it for the 2019 school year. Have a great summer!
—Wendy Morrill, English and Social Studies Teacher, Strong Elementary School