Spring Grove sixth-grader Kaitlyn Vickerman was part of a relay team that was able to use actual DNR firefighting gear as part of the Environmental Field Day.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->
Spring Grove sixth-grader Kaitlyn Vickerman was part of a relay team that was able to use actual DNR firefighting gear as part of the Environmental Field Day.

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Sixth-graders from schools in Spring Grove, La Crescent and Caledonia descended on Camp Winnebago in rural Caledonia to learn a little more about the environment they live in last week, as the Root River Soil and Water Conservation District (RRSWCD) hosted its annual Environmental Field Day event.

Presenters were faced with unlimited energy, enthusiasm and curiosity from an estimated 239 students, who got to learn about everything from wildlife to wetlands, fish to fire safety, soils, water and even rattlesnakes.

Eight learning stations featured experts who gave lively demonstrations to students during the four-hour-plus hands-on event.

"It was a great day," RRSWCD technician Dave Walter said. "It was a great experience for the young kids and the adults that stopped in (the instructors, teachers and bus drivers). It's a good way to learn a little bit more about the natural resources in southeast Minnesota. It's a good time to consider how important things are that you take for granted."

MnDNR Fisheries staff from Lanesboro electro-shocked Winnebago Creek, capturing some wild trout for students to see.

John Carlson and Jason Bland of the MnDNR Caledonia Forestry Office talked about fire safety and more.

Lilly Jensen of the Winneshiek County Conservation Board spoke on the value of wetlands.

Sara Grover, naturalist from Whitewater State Park, gave a "Learning to Live with Rattlesnakes" presentation.

District Conservationist Gary Larson talked about soils, showing how destructive flash floods can be.

Jerry Nelson of the Minnesota Trappers Association showed the tools of his trade and discussed the role of trapping in animal control.

Linda Dahl of the Southeast Minnesota Water Resources Board spoke on water resources and the effects of land use on that vital supply.

Mike Ebner and Randall Ashbacher of Tri-County Electric gave a "shocking" demonstration on electrical safety.

"We'd like to thank Camp Winnebago for donating the shelters rent-free, and their time for cleaning up afterwards, too," Walter noted. "It's a great area in which to hold these outdoor classrooms."