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Pine River-Backus: School board revisits buckthorn

The Pine River-Backus School Board heard a presentation by teacher Deb Schlueter and two students regarding a recent project to remove buckthorn from the school forest.

The presentation was a part of the "spotlight on education" portion of the monthly school board meeting Monday, Nov. 20.

Schlueter explained the efforts the high school science classes took toward learning about and identifying invasive buckthorn ahead of an Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 project to physically remove large stands of buckthorn from the school forest with assistance from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Corps.

Students incorporated the plant into curriculum, learning the real world influence of invasive species like buckthorn, witnessing their effect on the forest and applying those lessons toward its removal. Schlueter said the project can't end with this first stage of removal. She said the forest was so infested that there remains no other bushes or undergrowth in large sections of the forest because of the plant's tendency to out compete native plants for resources necessary for survival.

In addition, though the adult plants were removed, seedlings remain in the forest and will need to be monitored and removed in the future.

Board member Dawn Rubner asked if buckthorn removal could be incorporated into the school's annual community service day each spring. Schlueter said removal could be one of the projects students tackle that day.

In other business, the board:

• Agreed to hire David Johnson as a long-term substitute teacher to cover maternity leave for Stephanie Dinnel; Hope Crawford as paraprofessional; Justin Franke as assistant wrestling coach; and Pat Foster as junior high wrestling coach.

• Accepted the resignation of Autumn Ladue as varsity dance coach.

• Approved a French class trip to allow for fundraising.

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