Seton Catholic Middle School 7th Grade – Native Plant Education

By: OCMGA member Rich Fischer

I had the pleasure of providing native plant consultation to the 7th grade students of Menasha’s Seton Catholic Middle School on April 21, 2015. I found this to be a wonderful opportunity to meet with an ambitious and eager bunch of kids who are excited to be in charge of identifying site-appropriate native plants to purchase and getting hands-on experience planting their selections in Jane’s Woods. Jane’s Woods is a wooded area donated by John Bergstrom and named for his mother Jane. The woods is immediately behind the new St Mary’s Catholic Middle School which is in the last phase of construction. Next year, this group of students will be the first 8th grade class to graduate from the new school.

OCMGA volunteer Rich Fischer with the 7th grade class of Seton Catholic Middle School, Menasha

OCMGA volunteer Rich Fischer with the 7th grade class of Seton Catholic Middle School, Menasha

Jane’s Woods is being designated as a learning opportunity for the new St. Mary’s middle school and high school students. It will be populated with only native Wisconsin vegetation. The students and volunteers have already spent many hours busting buckthorn in Jane’s Woods and are now working on repopulating the understory with native plants.

Wild Ones member Zaiga Freivalds and I helped the 7th grade class choose native plants that will have the best chance of success in this site. The area is wet in the spring, dry in the summer and has many mature hickory and maple trees with an open canopy. The students will be purchasing and planting these native Wisconsin herbaceous plants and suitable woody plants this spring. They selected 5 each of 16 herbaceous plant species to populate the woods understory: Jacob’s Ladder, Jack In The Pulpit, Large White Trillium, Leatherwood Fern, Royal Fern, Sensitive Fern, Bottlebrush Grass, Sharp Lobed Hepatica, Virginia Bluebells, Marsh Blue Violet, Marsh Marigold, Shooting Star, Solomon’s Seal, Swamp Milkweed, Bloodroot and Red Baneberry. Woody plant selection has not been finalized but will likely include: Red Osier Dogwood, Silky Dogwood, Elderberry, Serviceberry, White Cedar, Red Oak, White Swamp Oak and Nannyberry Viburnum.

I was amazed at the students’ awareness of the value of maintaining native habitat and their passion for ecology. They made great use of technology, using the internet to research potential plants and make informed recommendations. Their young minds are leaps and bounds ahead of me when I was their age. The students’ ability to leverage technology, coupled with their enthusiasm and quest for horticulture knowledge is very impressive and encouraging for our future.

Posted by Vicki

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One thought on “Seton Catholic Middle School 7th Grade – Native Plant Education

  1. What an awesome project!!! I wish them much success!! Collaborating with kids is such an exciting part of being a master gardener!! Thanks for sharing!! –Katy

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