Wolves Think Green At Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Lucy Craft Laney Middle School teacher Rob Buck wasn’t familiar with the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum before this week. Turns out of the 50 kids in grades first through eighth who took part in Thursday’s field trip to Chanhassen, only two had been there before.
That changed on Thursday, as the Arboretum teamed with the FastBreak Foundation and the Roger & Nancy McCabe Foundation to facilitate an informational visit to help learn about protecting and appreciating the environment. As part of Think Green Month, the FastBreak Foundation’s main goal and message is to each today’s youth about how our actions can impact the environment.
They accomplished that goal during the three-hour event.
“I’m very glad, ecstatic that the Timberwolves put this together,” Buck said. “For the kids, it matters so much.”
Throughout the day, the kids had the opportunity to be hands-on in their learning. They arrived and received bright green t-shirts to commemorate their trip, and they gathered briefly to hear about the day’s upcoming events from both Wolves Radio’s John Focke and Arboretum Communications Manager Judy Hohmann. That’s when the group got their first opportunity to meet mascot Crunch, too.
From there, the kids broke up into groups of 10 and began investigating and learning what the Arboretum has to offer as well as how much they as individuals can impact the environment. The kids went from station to station on a scavenger hunt that brought them through the Arboretum’s conservatory to one of its libraries and beyond.
At each station, the kids learned a little bit about how thinking green can go a long way.
At one spot, inside the Horticulture Library, kids learned the importance of recycling paper products and how it can reduce the amount of trees cut down each year. At another, they were told that 60 percent of the materials used in NBA jerseys are recycled. And in another spot, they learned how much carpooling can impact the amount of fuel burned each year within the United States.
“It’s important they learn early, like anything it’s to get practicing,” said Nancy McCabe, who enjoyed the morning as she and her husband, Roger, took in the events with the kids. “It’s for the planet’s preservation…You have to recycle. So many things nowadays are made so they last much longer. They need to learn a better way for what to do with trash.”
The opportunity to host kids and teach important lessons about the environment is something the Arboretum values. The Arboretum, which works in conjunction with the University of Minnesota, is 1,100 acres (about 900 football fields) of land filled with gardens and tree collections, prairie and woods and miles of trails. As a non-profit organization, the Arboretum’s goal is sharing institutional information with the public and help them better understand how to take care of our planet.
They also are a part of the University’s research program, and they’ve blazed trails for new types of fruits in the upper Midwest like the Honeycrisp apple and the Frontenac wine grape.
On days like Thursday, the Arboretum’s main goal is to help kids learn a little bit more about how they can impact the environment today and in the future.
“It’s so important, and I think one thing we’re surprised about is the kids are very aware of green and the need to preserve the environment,” Hohmann said. “What we really like to tell kids is that the Arboretum is a place not only to enjoy the beautiful gardens but to explore nature and enjoy the outdoors. We have trails and waterfalls where they can find a way to connect with nature.”
Timberwolves Community Relations Coordinator Kristin Edmundson said the Lucy Craft Laney students were a great group to participate in the event. She said the kids were surprised and excited to learn at the different stations, and they genuinely enjoyed seeing some of the wildlife on the Arboretum’s campus as well as the unique opportunity to learn about some of the insects on display during the “Bug Talk” at the end of the event.
“The FastBreak Foundation is all about supporting youth and helping them provide lifeline memories,” Edmundson said. “They’re our future. It’s important that they come out and learn these things.”
For Buck, it was a cool way to be hands on while learning. The kids got to move around and apply what they were hearing and reading to some of the plants within the Arboretum. Even with it being a rainy day outside, they were able to connect with how their actions can impact the environment.
And they were rewarded for what they learned, too. Crunch passed out prizes for kids who were able to correctly answer questions at the end of the day.
“The kids go right to Crunch, and they’re excited about that,” Roger McCabe said. “They can have fun and still learn, so they’re coming out here and it’s not just about we’re going to sit. They’re having fun in this environment, so it’s great to have Crunch and the Timberwolves people here.”
“It’s a fabulous partnership with the Timberwolves, and the FastBreak Foundation and the Roger & Nancy McCabe Foundation,” Hohmann said. “Without them bringing out groups like the Lucy Craft Laney students, I think a lot of them—when I asked for a show of hands only a few had been out here. It’s perfect to partner with organizations like the Timberwolves to really help the entire community discover the Arboretum.”