Teaching the stewards of the future in an outdoor classroom

Science Area Teen Network puts high school student to work on restoration projects and teaches them ways technology aids ecology research.

Science Area Teen Network puts high school student to work on restoration projects and teaches them ways technology aids ecology research.

This spring, 77 Saint Paul Central High students spent a morning with Greening ecologists, working in an “outdoor classroom”, restoring the land, exploring the science of nature, and learning some Minnesota history.

The students were participants of Great River Greening’s Science Area Teen Network (SATN), a service-learning program that introduces and educates at-risk youth about environmental science and green jobs.

In May, the group visited historic Pilot Knob in Mendota Heights, where Greening is five years into a 10-year prairie restoration project. They removed buckthorn and other undesirable species, and then learned how technology, such as a wildlife camera, can aid ecology research.

For many of the students, this was series of firsts: First hearing about science-related environmental careers; getting hands-on stewardship experience, and visiting a natural site, like Pilot Knob. The metro site, located on a high, prominent hill on the east bank of the Minnesota River near where it meets the Mississippi River, has proved fertile for education purposes. It is a favorite site for many school groups in spring and fall.

Since the inception of SATN, 600 students have learned how technology and science tackle the challenges facing land and water, as well as play a role in our enjoyment of the outdoors. They have explored related tech- and science-based careers, such as landscape ecology, landscape architecture, and engineering, and gotten their hands dirty by helping restore the land.

Funding
This program is made possible by funding from 3M, Best Buy, Pentair, Subaru of America, and Tennant Foundations