First Graders Explore and Learn in the Great Outdoors

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First Graders Learn About Critters of the OutdoorsSome 102 students from Warroad Elementary School spent their last day of first grade in an outdoor classroom learning about the environment at Red Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Each took part in five separate learning sessions throughout the day, thanks to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Section.

One station was a tour of the historic Norris Camp, a preserved Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camp from the 1930s. The 6- and 7-year-old students participated in an interactive history lesson when they were asked to pretend they were new CCC enrollees arriving at the camp during the Great Depression.

According to teacher Mary Mohrbacher, “First graders love to pretend, so that really helped them get into it and follow along better.”

Three of the learning sessions involved nature hikes or tours. The students learned about current forestry practices as they walked through jack pine clear-cut and regeneration areas, and were able to observe and learn about much of the nature and wildlife that abound throughout the forest. At the pond, the kids caught a variety of critters, including insects and leeches, and received a lesson about the various wetland invertebrates they found.

There was also a session on outdoor safety that explained how to avoid getting lost, what to do if you get lost and how to provide basic emergency first aid.

“One of our main objectives for the day was to let the kids explore the outdoors with a little guidance about what they were finding,” said Gretchen Mehmel, DNR Wildlife Section area supervisor. “We hope this small taste of the outdoor world will inspire them to get outdoors themselves throughout the summer.”

Norris Camp is located near Roosevelt, about 30 miles southeast of Warroad.