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MooseWood adventure

A Living Green story

Lucia Valenzuela, a student at Father Marquette Catholic Academy, uses a magnifying class to get an up-close view of a specimen she found during a class field trip to the Presque Isle Park Bog Walk. (Journal photo by Cecilia Brown)

MARQUETTE — Getting children outdoors and engaged with nature can inspire a lifelong interest in wilderness and wildlife, especially when a knowledgeable guide can point out a rare salamander, an interesting plant or the handiwork of beavers.

Due to this, first- and second-grade students from Father Marquette Catholic Academy took a field trip last week for a hands-on educational experience at the MooseWood Nature Center and Presque Isle Park Bog Walk in Marquette.

“We came today to see what the MooseWood Nature (Center) had to offer us,” Noelle Geary, a second grade teacher at Father Marquette Catholic Academy, said Tuesday. “Many of the students had not been here before and we’re just looking to learn as much as we can about nature.”

The nature center and bog walk gave students an opportunity to connect with the natural environment while learning how to identify aspects of their surroundings, such as animals and their tracks, rocks and minerals, insects, plants, fungi and more.

“A goal that we have at Father Marquette is to get outside and explore nature as much as we can with our new science curriculum,” Geary said. “So any chance that we can get outside and go exploring — whether it be trees, rocks, animals, things that are native to our area — we find that very important.”

MooseWood Board of Directors member Erik Johnson holds a rare salamander found on the Presque Isle Park Bog Walk to show to Father Marquette Catholic Academy students. Students also observed a variety of plants and fungi, as well as insects, deer tracks, the handiwork of beavers, and much more on the walk. (Journal photo by Cecilia Brown)

Students learned from MooseWood board members Tiffany Rantanen and Erik Johnson, who explained the native plants and animals that could be observed within the center and along the bog walk.

It’s important to “try to get them out here and look at science and nature” and give youth an opportunity to “develop a connection with nature,” Johnson said, as this type of experience can “help them get on the right track where they can start learning about conservation.”

With the guidance of Johnson, students and teachers explored the Presque Isle Park Bog Walk, equipped with small magnifying glasses to provide close-up glimpses of their findings out on the trail. On their journey through the bog, students saw the handiwork of local beavers and found deer tracks, an endangered form of salamander, a variety of fungi and more.

Inside the MooseWood Nature Center — which features a variety of educational resources to help students learn about nature, such as rocks and minerals; preserved specimens of local plants and animals; microscopes, and even the center’s resident turtle, Shelldon — Rantanen told students about native plants and animals that can be found in and around the center.

Overall, Geary hoped the visit to the nature center would provide a memorable learning experience about the natural world for students and teachers alike.

From left, Father Marquette Catholic Academy students look on as MooseWood Board of Directors member Erik Johnson shows the children an example of the magnifying glass that they’ll each take with them as they explore the nearby Presque Isle Park Bog Walk. The first- and second- grade students learned about the area’s plants, animals and minerals during a visit to the MooseWood Nature Center and the Presque Isle Park Bog Walk Tuesday, with organizers and teachers aiming to create memorable hands-on learning experience in nature for the children. (Journal photo by Cecilia Brown)

“That’s another reason why we came here today, so we could let the experts educate all of us, including us teachers,” she said. “And then hopefully the kids will like it and ask their parents to bring them back some time.”

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.