“The best part was the woods. I liked the cookies and Dr. Pepper. I got to dig. I had a tick, but it just tickled; it didn’t suck my blood at all!” Paul, 17 year-old.
We arrived at Birch Island Woods in Eden Prairie to find a crowd of cheerful volunteers, mostly teenagers around the same age as Paul, gathered around a truck laden with unplanted trees and shrubs. We were given a pallet of Honeysuckle roots and directed to an area devoid of grass where we were to use our shovel to scoop mounds of rich dirt into planters around our Honeysuckle roots. Paul had a blast digging in the dirt with both his shovel and his hands, but he also enjoyed tamping the dirt around the Honeysuckle roots in order to allow them to grow.
We planted twelve Honeysuckle bushes and after each planting Paul and I took some time to search for creatures in the dirt. We unearthed several worms, a spider, and an enormous beetle. Much excitement ensued upon the discovery of the beetle! While digging Paul engaged in several positive interactions with some of the other teenage volunteers; he met a 17 year-old guy named “Stephen” and a young woman named “Susan.” After about 45 minutes of planting we took a break to enjoy a hike through the beautiful woods surrounding the area; Paul loved tromping through a drained swamp and lifting up dead logs teeming with bug life!
After returning to finish planting Paul asked the gentleman who was coordinating the event, “What are these for?” The man replied that we were planting trees and shrubs that, upon maturation, would be sold in a fundraiser for Birch Island Woods. After hearing this Paul looked over to our Pallet of Honeysuckle roots and perhaps made a deeper connection with what the result of all of our digging that day would be.
Note: Over 1000 trees and shrubs were potted in the record breaking time of 45 minutes...