Getting kids outdoors is an essential goal for the American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul, MN. As budget cuts increase, funding for the arts, physical education, and outdoor experiences are limited, and curricula focus more and more on reading, writing, and math. Last year, AIMS worked with two other local schools to get their neighborhood woods, called the Big Urban Woods, officially recognized as a School Forest with the DNR School Forest Program.
AIMS was able to program their events at the Big Urban Woods and around school grounds so they could plant vegetation to attract birds, like native prairie plants on a hillside and trees and other shrubs in a wooded area. Students received their own set of binoculars and bird books. “They were genuinely excited to have their own materials,” Ms. Swensen, one of the teacher organizers of the event told us. “The students put them in their Ojibwe bandolier bags along with their nature journals and drawing pencils. Our young naturalists are ready to observe nature this summer.” They even used the awarded binoculars to locate a pair of nesting Peregrine Falcons on top of the school’s chimney stack, which nobody had expected!