A sunny Fall day was my inspiration to take a moment and step away from writing a Patriot Perspective segment about the Delta Variant, mask updates or our COVID Mitigation plan and shift the narrative for a minute. We’ve all read about the impact of the pandemic on the outdoor industry.

The MN Department of Natural Resources reports that fishing license sales are up approximately 60% higher than pre-pandemic rates. Forbes Magazine reports that throughout our nation, kayak sales are up 30%, camping tents are up over 50%, active apparel is up close to 27%, and the list goes on. With retailers struggling to keep the shelves stocked, some might wonder how Pequot Lakes Public Schools is addressing the call to get kids outside as well.

Pequot Lakes Public Schools have always valued our students’ ability to get out and appreciate all that nature offers our region. Over the years, our middle school campus has engaged in roadside cleanup efforts, annual Stewardship Days at Camp Confidence, and as recent as last Winter, a Sibley Lake experience for grades 5 and 6.

All of the activities are exciting and fun filled experiences for our staff and kids, which certainly has merit, but it is also important to note that these school days are designed with the intent of helping kids to take ownership of our natural resources. Within the classroom, our science teachers and curriculums are committed to teaching our middle schoolers about our watersheds, ecosystems and more.

Beyond the academic day, our middle school students have access to the clay target league and fishing team. As our students head off to high school, our students have the opportunity to take part in a very popular outdoor engineering course through technology education and sports and recreation through our physical education department.

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Gearing up for the 2021-22 school year, our school district has made a commitment to efforts at Eagle View to have a yurt dedicated to outdoor learning and to expand our “specials” courses to include environmental education being woven into our Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programming through the incredible teaching of Mrs. Deanne Trottier. Canoes and mountain bikes are available for student usage in our high school’s outdoor physical education class and we’ve already started in on the conversation about exciting field trip experiences for our middle school students, headed to Cuyuna and more.

One of my favorite aspects of being a MS principal is having a front row seat as our students plant a seed of interest, and watching as that eventually blossoms into a passion that motivates them. Whether it be a love of animals fostered through a science lesson at Eagle View, or the pursuit of a degree in wildlife biology courtesy of time spent in a duck blind, activities and experiences impact our kids’ trajectory. It's exciting to be a part of all of it.

As I type my draft of this segment, sitting across from me at my desk is a stack of forms that I need to attend to. Within that stack are the usual timecards, professional development forms, and other items I have to sign off on.

In the fall, I must admit that I particularly enjoy taking a look at the absence of pre-approval forms submitted by our families for upcoming vacations. From families taking their crew out to the western states in pursuit of big game, to something as simple as the many students who stop me in the hallway to share their pictures from their outdoor pursuits over the weekend, I frequently find myself wrapped up in jealousy of the amazing outdoor experiences that many of our families provide their children.

For those taking those trips, consider recruiting one of your child’s friends to tag along as well; you might just be a part of impacting someone’s trajectory. Who knows, you may help them to fall in love with the outdoors too.