Tree-mendous outdoor education opportunity for 2019 first grade class

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Crawford County Conservationist Dave Troester shows Ellie Kramer, a Prairie Catholic School first grader, how to spray water from a powerful hose attached to a forester pack. This was just one of the hands-on demonstrations provided at the annual first grade Arbor Day program at the county courthouse lawn Friday. (Photos by Correne Martin)

Retired teacher Mark Pedretti shows B.A. Kennedy Elementary School first graders the cones on a Jack pine tree and explains how they open up, birds eat the seeds and then contribute to beginnings of another tree being planted. Pictured getting a close look are (front to back) Camden Fradette, Will Redman and Jacob Pagenkopf.

The entire group posed for a picture together in celebration of Arbor Day.

Trace Martin and Breanna Perkins helped Tom Nelson open the flag for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Mark Pedretti shows the kids an antler shed and talks about how it contains minerals that the squirrels come eat. He said squirrels will often eat the whole thing.

Tom Nelson involves a number of the first graders as the group begins envisioning planting their class' flowering crabapple tree.

A highlight of the event was shooting the forester pack's connecting hose toward a few bottles, simulating how a forester fights local wildfires.

Mrs. Sagedahl helps a few of her students along.

By Correne Martin

Flooding waters didn’t stop the annual first grade Arbor Day program from happening. Instead of learning and planting a tree at the St. Feriole Island Memorial Gardens, the public and private school first graders of Prairie du Chien received “tree-mendous” education Friday, April 27, on the lawn of the Crawford County Courthouse. A flowering crabapple tree will be planted in honor of the 2019 first grade class at Lucky Park when waters recede.

Sponsored by the Prairie du Chien Parks and Recreation Department, the program’s format remained similar to past years.  There were three stations led by Crawford County Conservationist Dave Troester, and retired teachers Mark Pedretti and Tom Nelson, who all assist with the city’s tree population. Troester discussed invasive species, machine planting trees and fighting fires in the forest. Pedretti shared examples of tree branches, needles, leaves and nuts, as well as antler sheds and how all these pieces contribute to a tree’s life cycle. Nelson discussed trees across the community and some history. 

In the end, the entire group used their imagination to “plant” a tree. This involved digging the hole, placing the seedling tree, replacing the earth and then stomping the dirt overtop. 

The students also said the Pledge of Allegiance together and heard a poem entitled, “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer, who actually lived in Prairie du Chien for awhile long ago. The poem is recited as follows:

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree. 

A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day, 

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me, 

But only God can make a tree.

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