Friends School of Minnesota 3rd and 4th graders went on a full-day field trip to Fort Snelling State Park on Wednesday, October 24th. It was the first of four trips to the Mississippi River this year.

The first trip was independent trip to explore the river, document the phenology of how species change throughout the seasons on Pike Island. Students also did a service-project to clean up one of the river beaches.

3rd & 4th graders headed to Pike Island on the Mississippi River

“On our trip to Fort Snelling I learned that trees can live even if their inside rotted out. I also learned about how bad the floods and garbage systems have been. I enjoyed climbing on trees, doing power spots and hiking around places. I think that knowing the phenology of the animal/leaf/tree was hard along with capturing the mental picture and then drawing it. My power spot is about twenty feet down from an odd sort of shaven fallen tree. It has a nice view of the bridge and whatever comes by. Its nice for looking at the river and its flow. Behind me is a forest, in front of me is a blue and clear river. On the other side of the river is another forest. I have loved doing the trip to Pike Island and am looking forward to more.” – 4th grader

3rd-4th grade teacher Chad and student.

“I learned about the Minnesota River. I learned that it was actually part of a National Park. I liked having choice in the woods. I relaxed with some friends. we pretended that we met some fairies and that when we touched them, we turned into fairies. I also liked the quiet time. I picked up spiral shells and many different types of rocks including agates and fossils and caramel colored tocks and shiny rocks. I enjoyed it a lot!” – 3rd grader

“In my secret spot, I saw a Canadian Goose squack extremely loud and I made a cool rock sculpture. I had a blast at Fort Snelling.” 3rd grader

“I learned what a Maple tree looks like. My spot was big and I had a tree branch and a tree root. I could see the water.” – 3rd grader

Students collected trash on the beach and recorded their findings.

“I enjoyed the part where we picked up trash. but it was hard to pick up everything because there was so much trash. My group found 100 cigarettes and 50 pieces of styrophome. We were only in a 5 feet radius! What do people do on the beach! I think they should put up a sign saying : People Play and Animals live here. Please pick up! And then they could have an arrow pointing to the garbage can. There shouldn’t be that much trash!”- 4th grader

“It was fun picking up trash. We found 100 cigarettes. I think that is crazy! We also found bags, pieces of plastic and rubber. We picked up a ton of trash which is good and bad at the same time.” – 4th grader

On subsequent trips students will meet with the Department of Natural Resources to learn local geology, GPS navigation, and possibly snowshoeing and fish seining. Students will also meet National Park Rangers to help remove invasive buckthorn for the National Park Service and Mississippi River Fund. Two of these field-trips will be paid for by a Climates Challenge Grant through the National Park Service.

“Fort Snelling was fun. I enjoyed the beach cleaning up because I felt like I was helping nature. My little space is very nice and learning about the phenology was super cool. Seeing the water post and hollowed out tree was awesome! At the break, me and my friends climbed on logs. But best of all, was looking at the river and the bluff- it was very beautiful.”- 4th grader