Students get muddy for pheasants

Farm Forum

Students from Lincoln Elementary School got a little muddy on May 15 — with the permission of their teachers.

Second-graders took a short afternoon field trip to the community gardens near the Kuhnert Arboretum on Aberdeen’s south side to learn about bees, butterflies and the plants that support their existence.

The event is part of the Pheasants Forever upland pollinator habitat program.

“Those kids are just awesome,” said Emmett Lenihan, one of the organizers of the event.

This is the second year the Northern South Dakota chapter of Pheasants Forever has sponsored the event, Lenihan said. Last year, the group partnered with the Warner School District at the Casanova Game Production Area about 9 miles southwest of Aberdeen.

“We’ve been doing it in a lot of different states and Pheasants Forever has been helping pay the cost of these things,” Lenihan said. “There’s no shortage of schools that are interested.”

The children — many were adorned in orange Pheasants Forever T-shirts — marched their way to the plot from the north side of the park to the plot on the south side. They started the afternoon by spreading a seed mix prepared by the chapter members throughout the plot, which was soft, but not too muddy, from the recent rain.

After that they split into three groups, divided by classroom — by teachers Jill Hermansen, Brenda Hansen or Cassie Duffy — and explore different stations set up for them.

They were able to get dirty and plant a seedling with the help of a trowel; create a seed ball with mud and the same seed mix they sprinkled when they first arrived; they learned about the rolls monarch butterflies and bees have in pollinating and the greater impact they have on the ecosystem.

“The kids are going to learn a lot, they’re going to have a great time, and what we’re teaching them is really important,” Lenihan said. “What’s good for honeybees and what’s good for monarchs is excellent for pheasants. We need it for the brood-rearing habitat. They bring in a lot of hardshell insects and some soft shell, like your different beetles and what have you — that’s the protein for the pheasants.”

There were more than 80 students at the event.

The best part, Lenihan said, was that the project didn’t end when the students left. They’ll be able to bring their parents in about six weeks and show them what they did.

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