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Pequot Lakes sixth-graders take educational field trip to Wolf Ridge

Students and chaperones enjoyed 3 feet of fresh snow near Lake Superior

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More than 120 Pequot Lakes Middle School students went to the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center Jan. 11-13, 2023. Pictured from left are Peyton Sargent, Jacob Gammon, Xylon Barajas, Johnny Page and Trey Wiczek.
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FINLAND, Minnesota — More than 120 Pequot Lakes sixth-graders and roughly 20 chaperones spent the latter half of last week learning in the great outdoors at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minnesota.

Some of our chaperones logged over 26,000 steps per day in snow up to our waist. It was quite the endeavor.
Mike O'Neil

The group left Wednesday, Jan. 11, and returned home Friday, Jan. 13. Pequot Lakes Middle School Principal Mike O’Neil said students had full days, with some students starting their work at 6:45 a.m. and not going to bed until after 10 p.m.

“Some of our chaperones logged over 26,000 steps per day in snow up to our waist,” he said. “It was quite the endeavor.”

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Pequot Lakes sixth-graders, including Claire Loge, had the chance to enjoy various outdoor activities at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center beginning on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.
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The students were treated to “unseasonably warm temperatures” as they trekked through the snow near Lake Superior, took turns with activities like high ropes and learned various biological and ecological lessons.

“Some kids that may not normally step out of their comfort zone were best in rock climbing or in high ropes,” O’Neil said. “We were really just broadening the kids' perspective to an ecological world that they're not accustomed to.

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"They got to see a life-sized version of a moose and hear about moose ecology, which was fascinating to them," he said. "They got to see the night sky in an even less light polluted environment than we have around here.”

Wolf Ridge officials gave the students a perfect score on their “Wolf Ridge Conservation Challenge” for the students’ efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle during their stay.

It's really exciting to see (students’) personalities blossom and seeing kids thrive in a setting that isn't confined by the four walls of a classroom.
Mike O'Neil

O’Neil expressed his gratitude to the numerous organizations that funded the trip, as well as to the chaperones who kept the 100-plus students in check in order to have the most enjoyable trip possible.

“We definitely got every ounce out of our chaperones, but the kids had a fun and rewarding and safe trip because of it,” O’Neil said. “It's really exciting to see (students’) personalities blossom and seeing kids thrive in a setting that isn't confined by the four walls of a classroom.”

Dan Determan, sports writer/staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com . Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan .

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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