18 acre of land revitalized for outdoor learning

18 acre of land revitalized for outdoor learning
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 5:55 PM CDT
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ST. JAMES, Minn. (KEYC) - What started as a winter snowshoeing event turned into a summer revitalization project for an 18 acre, outside learning center in St James. The inspiration came from Dale Hedlund, who used the same area to take his students to explore, years ago, and now wants to give the community a chance to learn, as well.

“It’s becoming an area again where we’ve always considered it to be a place to explore, and discover, to learn, and finally to understand,” retired teacher and revitalist Dale Hedlund said.

The area is officially called the Meadowlarks Prairies Outdoor Lab, featuring three different ecosystems: prairies, woods, and ponds. The area has been untouched by the city, until now.

“And then they thought why don’t we revitalize this area? And bring it back to what it was naturally used for, years ago, and that was for the school. Kids would come out and have a place to explore,” emergency management Mark Nielsen said.

Some new features to the area include a new entry sign, mowed trails, a few park benches and more. One aspect Hedlund is excited about is the wild flowers and other various plants that are potted with signs for people to identify while they’re walking around. It’s his way of teaching to a new wave of outdoor students and protect the area.

“Some places have wildflowers growing where its attracting endangered insects species like the resting-back bumblebee. And we’re pretty eager to see if we can spot one or two or ten,” Hedlund stated.

Next to the Unleash Dog Park, The Meadowlarks Prairies Outdoor Lab will open officially on Wednesday, June 22, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“It’s a quick-stop kind of thing. People can come out and spend an hour or so here,” Hedlund said.

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