Students at Cromwell-Wright School spent much of Tuesday, Oct. 1, outside their classrooms in the 80-acre school forest during an environmental education day at the school.

The students, teachers and residents at the forest celebrated the opening of a recently built pavilion in the forest about 2 miles from the school. The pavilion was completed in March, but C-W science teacher Lori Wester said they delayed opening of the pavilion until the fall because of the wet, muddy spring.

In fact, Wester said they considered postponing Tuesday’s activities after heavy rains the day before.

Conditions were a little soggy, but students of all ages were able to check out several stations set up throughout the 1-mile loop trail, including an animal trapping demonstration, water quality testing, survival skills and team-building exercises.

Students at Cromwell-Wright School celebrated the completion of a pavilion at the school's 80-acre forest Tuesday, Oct. 1. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal
Students at Cromwell-Wright School celebrated the completion of a pavilion at the school's 80-acre forest Tuesday, Oct. 1. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal

Wester said the outdoor learning is important because students connect better with hands-on learning than sitting in a classroom day after day.

“They’re not going to remember what they got on a test, but they’ll remember this,” Wester said.

Some students spent time digging for worms they could use for fishing, while others identified potentially invasive species in a nearby pond.

C-W students, teachers, Conservation Corps of Minnesota & Iowa members and residents have helped build the trails and develop the forest into a learning tool for students and the community.

It’s vital that students connect to the world around them in their learning so they continue to preserve and care for the outside world as they move into their lives after high school.

“It’s super important because they can connect to it,” Wester said. “They won’t take care of what they don’t love. If we want stewards of the land, we need to connect them to it.”