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Pequot Lakes: Middle school students take part in Stewardship Day

Coinciding with the high school's Day of Caring, Pequot Lakes Middle School students took part in Stewardship Day on Wednesday, May 4. Middle school principal Mike O'Neil, a former AP environmental science teacher, began Stewardship Day to educat...

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Coinciding with the high school's Day of Caring, Pequot Lakes Middle School students took part in Stewardship Day on Wednesday, May 4.

Middle school principal Mike O'Neil, a former AP environmental science teacher, began Stewardship Day to educate students on the need to conserve natural resources and appreciate the environment.

"Conservation and wise use of resources is something that I have promoted throughout my teaching career," O'Neil said. "With this generation, if we don't get that message out, the resources we take for granted in lakes country are not going to be in a good spot."

The day was split into two parts for students. In the morning, they worked outside to improve their environment. In the afternoon, they visited various sites dedicated to conservation.

Students took part in roadside cleanup, with the help of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Central Lakes Rotary, and planted trees along County Road 16 with the help of Crow Wing Power and Happy Dancing Turtle. O'Neil rewarded the three students who found the "most intriguing trash" along the road with a treat from Dairy Queen

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After completing their work, the students visited hatcheries in Brainerd and Remer, and took a tour of Happy Dancing Turtle in Pine River.

"It was pretty evident the kids had a great time," O'Neil said. "Mother Nature blessed us with some phenomenal weather. The premise of the whole day was, 'Let's not just talk about it, let's take action.' That is the only way things will truly get done."

The Rotary club provided lunch for students.

O'Neil said the school will continue to teach conservation and stewardship to its students, and would like to take submissions from the public for ideas on the students' next environmental project.

"I hope they walk away understanding when people pitch things in the ditch, it ends up somewhere," O'Neil said. "A drop of rain in this portion of the watershed, in theory, makes it all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. With that, we start the whole watershed responsibility up here, where we enjoy clean water, clean air and lakes that aren't green by June 1."

Related Topics: PEQUOT LAKES
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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