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Senior Project Helps St. Michael Students Get in Touch with Nature

Thanks to an independent study project by senior Elyssa Eull, first-graders from Big Woods and Fieldstone took a nature hike last week in their own backyard.

Tucked behind , just to the west, is a space known by those within the school district as "The Wetlands."

It's a pond surrounded by forest, and with help from the St. Michael-Albertville Rotary, now has a walking trail complete with woodchips. A couple of bridges are set to be added, too. 

For St. Michael-Albertville senior Elyssa Eull, who is set to graduate Friday night as one of the tops in her class, it was her classroom. 

Eull took on an independent study project (ISP) with the help of high school teacher Kay Nowell. 

Eull examined the habitat, which is south of the high school as well, and made several stations along the walking path. Then, as the year wound down, she invited first-graders from all elementary school to participate in this hands-on, up-close-and-personal day in "the wetlands." 

"It's been my class, really, for the first hour of every day this trimester," Eull said. "We decided to make it this kind of field day. I think, looking back here, you can find all these ducks and reptiles, plants that are native to Minnesota. It's been great to see it come together." 

She received help from fellow students. Nowell enlisted some of her classes, as well as others that were versed in biology and environmental science. Eull recruited some of her friends as well. 

Zac Wimmergren, a fellow senior (and Eull's prom date, conincidentally) also did his senior ISP in the area, creating a small, outdoor classroom, with benches made from fallen logs. 

Other freinds chipped in as well. 

"This is the second year we've had this kind of project, and Shannon Heitkamp was able to do a lot with it last year. I thought it was kind of perfect for Elyssa," Nowell said. 

The first-graders soaked it in, asking questions about the ducks and family of Canadian geese (complete with fuzzy little ducklings) that were swimming in the pond. They also got a look at aquatic life, and explored the bird boxes along the way. 

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