Our Turn: My school’s partnership with Treehaven
My name is Alex Gaber. I am an 8th grader at the Northwoods Community Secondary School (NCSS), and was part of the Rhinelander Environmental Stewardship Academy (RESA) when I was in 7th grade last year.
With RESA, we made many trips out to Treehaven to do many things, such as nature hikes, different types of field studies, and more. Treehaven is UW-Stevens Point’s 1,400 acre facility used to study natural resources. This year NCSS has absorbed the RESA program, and formed their own partnership with Treehaven. Twenty students will go out there seven times during the 2011-12 school year, and our first visit is complete.
We started the first day out at Treehaven with a teambuilding exercise. The teambuilding exercise that we did was the human knot. The human knot is where we take the hand of another person across from you and have to try to untangle everybody back into a circle without letting go of the other person’s hand. The other exercise we did was to try to get in a line from our birthday dates in order and that wasn’t the easiest thing because we had to do it with out talking. The purpose of these activities was to try to get us all to communicate with each other, get everybody to be a leader, and most importantly to have us problem solve as a team.
One of the other things that we are doing every time we go out to Treehaven is a phenology study. Phenology is the study of the ever-changing ecosystem through out the changing seasons. It is also a very intrapersonal study.You might be wondering what “intrapersonal” means. Intrapersonal is when you are just by yourself, thinking to yourself. So what we did, was we went out to a spot using a compass (we had a lesson in navigation earlier in the day). After a hike into the woods, we were given a bearing (the degree or direction of travel) and walked about 150 paces in that direction to find a spot that we liked. Then we just sat, watched and took notes about what we saw. We could comment on the weather, or maybe draw a picture on what we saw. We sat in our spot for about 30 minutes and wrote what we saw down in our nature journal. My journal has a sketch of the spruce tree that was just a couple feet in front of me.
The last thing that we did was a water quality study on the two main water sources on the Treehaven property, Pickerel Creek and Dragonfly Pond. We took a bucket, filled it about a quarter of the way, brought it back to a lab room, and got our safety goggles and gloves on. The main things that we were looking for were alkalinity, phosphates, nitrates, the pH, dissolved oxygen, and water temperature. The two people leading us through these team building and science skills were Peter Gizyn and Jaime Bunting. They are both are graduate students at UW-Stevens Point.
I’m looking forward to my time at Treehaven this year. If our first trip was any indication, we’ll get to know each other better, have time to learn more about ourselves, and learn some science.