Greenwood Elementary Service Day 2023: Randy Arnold

What started back in October of last year with six workdays of volunteers cutting buckthorn, honeysuckle, and box elders at a site on Quarry Rd, wrapped up last Friday when 75 students, 15 parent volunteers and the teaching staff of those 3rd graders at Greenwood Elementary School in River Falls showed up at 9:30 in the morning. Their aim was to drag all of the slash from those workdays and place it on three bonfires that had been started about 30 minutes before their arrival.

The volunteers present helping to start the fires and watch over the kids to maintain safety were Jim Tatzel, Dave Gregg, Tom Anderson, David Brockway, Tom Schnadt, Pat Sexton, Dave Kozlovsky and myself. Soon two busloads of students arrived. I gave a brief talk to the Greenwood entourage about safety precautions we asked them to follow. 

Half of the students returned to the bus and headed further upstream for a nature walk led by one of their teachers while the other half put on safety glasses and began hauling brush to the two bonfires.  I had a gas driven water pump ready as a safety precaution and, on several occasions, I did fire up the pump and pour a little water on one of the bonfires to keep the flames from getting too high. The weather on the days leading up to the event could not have been better, with several days of rain and below average temperatures keeping the fire danger relatively low. This event had been originally scheduled for back in December and then again in early January but was postponed due to bitterly cold temps and a following blizzard. After an hour of moving brush to the bonfires, kids who had been on the nature walk returned and switched places with their classmates. A  third bonfire was started just prior to the changeover and, the second wave of kids made short work of the brush which remained. 

This is the third time that this event has been held. Chapter member and Greenwood 3rd grade teacher Steve Papp was the driving force behind the creation of this event and the 3rd graders at his school are also participants in the TIC program. This event provides a wonderful opportunity for the kids to connect with and realize how a healthy stream corridor is so important to the survival of trout.  In past years Kasey Yallaly and Marty Engel have assisted by leading the kids on the nature walk portion. Both were unavailable this year so the teaching staff took it upon themselves to fill that void.  Thank you to all who participated and I look forward to many more years of this very successful program.

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