BY PENNY LEUTHARD, STAFF WRITER
Restoration work at the Clearview Forest continues, including a recent Family Fun Night spent planting trees and students taking turns planting pollinator gardens with $20,000 received through Great River Greening’s General Mills Foundation grant.
A little rain didn’t stop students and their families from attending Clearview Forest Night earlier in the month, where they could tour the forest’s trails and plant seedlings. Inside attendees could participate in forest bingo, draw animals and flowers, and plant and take home vining plants. They could also purchase STEM science kits and items made out of wood from Clearview Forest.
Last weekend work began on the preparation and planting of three to four pollinator gardens next to and in the forest, led by members of Great River Greening (GRG), with students, community volunteers and local Boy Scout Troops helping out.
GRG was among the recipients of a commemorative grant celebrating the General Mills Foundation’s 65th anniversary. The foundation awarded $100,000 to the organization for pollinator projects that have conservation impact and touch multiple communities throughout the state, including pollinator planting in Clearview Forest.
“Great River Greening is excited to be working alongside of this community of dedicated volunteers, and is inspired by the number of youth stewards who are learning to care for the land,” said Wiley Buck, GRG ecologist. “We look forward to making a big impact together.”
GRG nominated Clearview for the grant largely in part because of the community and school spirit.
“Our mission is to encourage the public in restoration,” said Wiley. “It’s a great way to connect and learn about nature. The biggest thing is just to have fun outdoors.”
Boy Scout Troop 211 member Robbie Roob was one of the volunteers.
“I like planting things,” he said. “We’ve been digging, planting and mulching wildflowers to restore the area. I’ve also helped clear downed trees and debris and helped plant new trees.”
All the mulch used in the forest project comes from downed and removed forest trees.
Sixth grader Addison Simard, a former Clearview student, volunteered with her friend Svea Weeks. They’re part of a group of girls and parents working on starting a Scouts BSA troop for girls. Their volunteer work will go towards their service hours.
“I like gardening and volunteering,” said Simard. “I can do both here.”
“I’m doing service hours and working on my gardening merit badge,” said Weeks.
Throughout the past week, Clearview students in Kindergarten through fifth grade took turns venturing out and planting the pollinator plants. In total, 117 flats containing over 6,300 plants native to Minnesota were brought in.
“The students are learning so much through this project,” said fifth grade teacher and forest volunteer Andrea Coulter. “The names of plants, sun versus shade, perennial versus annual, grasses versus flowers and how worms cultivate the soil.”
The school is placing water barrels around the forest which will help with watering the new gardens throughout the summer.
Coulter said Clearview’s teachers have appreciated the learning students are receiving, and parents visiting the forest have been amazed at how beautiful it is.
Great River Greening is Minnesota’s leader in community-based restoration of its land and water. The organization is devoted solely to stewardship, working side-by-side with 2,000 volunteers every year to transform degraded land into resilient habitat that supports wildlife and climate resilience.
Since its beginning in 1995, the organization has engaged 42,000 volunteers and planted 485,000 native trees, grasses and flowers in 20,000 acres on 400 sites throughout Minnesota. By 2020, Great River Greening will have impacted 10,000 acres of working lands, including critical wildlife areas; reduced water pollution entering over 20 of the state’s rivers and lakes; increased resiliency, biodiversity and pollinator habitat across 4,000 acres of public land, and inspired 3,000 youth to care for the natural world.