Bailey Duxbury has spent the summer clearing buckthorn and other invasive species from Savanna Spring Nature Center.   GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Bailey Duxbury has spent the summer clearing buckthorn and other invasive species from Savanna Spring Nature Center. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Bailey Duxbury's job is blooming invasive.

He has to remove bouncing Bette...

But nothing about it nettles him.

"I mostly had to remove a lot of invasive species - buckthorn and honeysuckle trees, and I had to remove a flower called 'bouncing Bette,' ragweed and burning nettles," said Bailey, son of Tom and Sara Duxbury. He has spent approximately 30 hours clearing and removing invasive plant species and trees from the Savanna Spring Nature Center's thickets and prairie.

Bailey's work at Savanna Spring began with a plant identification lesson given by Chatfield trail enthusiast Tim Gossman, who pointed out buckthorn, honeysuckle trees and other plants that just didn't belong in the prairie and woods.

Bailey explained, "Tim walked me around and showed me what was what. I had landscaped for five years with my dad, so I kind of knew which plants to clear. Tim showed me what to clear, and when I saw them, I took them out or at least tried to."

Bailey said the project started out as "kind of" a FFA project, but then Gossman hired him again this year to continue.

"I guess they liked what I did the year before," Bailey added. "I did it last year, right after school started, and this year, I started in June."

Bailey also works at Chatfield Elementary School's ValleyLand School Age Child Care during the day, but he has Tuesdays off, so he uses those hours to make a difference.

"I come on Tuesdays if it's not too hot, and I have probably another 10 hours of work left. I'll be done at the end of the summer."

He added, "I've also been put in charge of finding the areas that would benefit from prescribed burns, because since we've been burning and taken invasive species out, it has helped quite a bit. If you look at the pond, it was filled with invasive plants, but if you look at it this year, there are only a couple green pieces...it's mostly clear."

The Chatfield High School graduate admitted that before he began weeding at Savanna Spring, he didn't pay much attention to the plants or flowers there.

"I really didn't know it was here until we took a field trip here in fourth grade," Bailey said. "I didn't come here that often, and the more I come here now, the more I realize that you can see a lot of colors - reds, purples, yellows - and that it's more colorful up here than it looks from the road."

His affection for the small town nature center and traveling to places where there are good hiking opportunities grew from his years helping his grandfather and his father with their work.

"I like the outdoors - my grandpa liked to trim trees, my dad likes to landscape, and both of them had landscaping businesses. I just grew up around it and did the same thing," Bailey added. "Growing up liking the outdoors, I've gotten to see a lot of neat spots, like the Boundary Waters and backpacking in the Rocky Mountains. Clearing this, maybe I can help some people have the same experiences I've had, to have a natural place to go and enjoy."

Bailey aspires to become an outdoorsman by trade, and plans to attend Winona State University this coming fall.

"I'm going to be a freshman at Winona State. Majoring in biology is my plan - I haven't really decided yet, but once I get there, I'm pretty sure I'm going to declare biology...I want to get a degree in biology," Bailey said. "I really would like to have a job outdoors, working with nature, whether it be plants or animals, I'd like to be doing something outdoors. A field biologist would be cool...I'd get to travel and see different places."

He hopes to return to Chatfield and see that his work at Savanna Spring has been appreciated.

"I'd like it to be maintained after I go to college," Bailey concluded. "It would be nice to see people walking through, and when I drive by, I would like to see the weeds kept out, that it looks nice and that people are using it."