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Rice Lake School District Outdoor Classroom. Objectives of this Power Point:. To share with viewers the history of the pond area and document how the school has used this area. Original Owners. 1848 Wisconsin becomes a state; the state is the first owner.

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Rice lake school district outdoor classroom l.jpg

Rice Lake School District Outdoor Classroom


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Objectives of this Power Point:

  • To share with viewers the history of the pond area and document how the school has used this area.


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Original Owners

  • 1848 Wisconsin becomes a state; the state is the first owner.

  • Ezra Cornell bought the property from the state in 1866 and donated it to Cornell University in 1874.

  • The University sold it to Knapp-Stout Logging Company in 1878.

  • Knapp-Stout sold it to John Olson Sten in 1895. The land had many owners from 1895 to about 1945 when Edward Fronk bought it. Edward Fronk created the pond and farmed the area. It is believed that Fronk built the pond so he could enjoy nature.

  • Jerome and Loreena Palmquist purchased the property from Edward Fronk around 1980.


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How the school became owners

  • In 1983 Kris Schilling, Middle School Science Teacher, received permission from Jerome Palmquist to take her students to the pond to study nature.

  • Mrs. Schilling had the students carry out several projects, one of her favorites was having the kids keep personal journals on the pond.


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Organisms Sighted by students at the Pond Over the Years.

  • Mammals

    deer, raccoon, opossum, skunk, cottontail rabbit, muskrat, several species of mice, moles and shrews, rats.


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  • Amphibians/Reptiles

  • green frog, leopard frog, painted turtle, American toad, spotted salamander, common garter snake, red bellied snake, snapping turtle, tree frogs


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  • Birds

    Swallow, swamp sparrow, red-winged blackbird, yellow-headed blackbird, grackles, crows, robins, hummingbirds, nuthatches, various woodpeckers including a pileated woodpecker, chickadee, hawks, mallards, bluebirds, Canadian geese, owls and more.


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  • This is a picture of three high school students helping five elementary students install bluebird houses around the perimeter of the pond for Environmental/Community Service Day in the spring of 2006. You can see the bluebird house in the background. There are about six or seven of these houses around the perimeter of the pond. To the right is a picture of Mr. Anderson helping elementary students find suitable locations for the bird houses they just built. Student points out bird nest in lower left picture.


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Water Critters known to students as “Macroinvertebrates” found at the pond.

  • Zooplankton include copepods and water fleas as well as others like mosquito larvae. Below is a digital picture taken from a digital microscope by a high school student of the breathing tube of a mosquito larvae found at the pond.


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  • At one point in the mid 90’s there were as many as 25-30 different macroinvertebrates found in the pond. Below is a picture of a cattail grub. This is larvae that spends the winter in a cattail then metamorphosis's into an adult in the spring, mates and lays eggs on the new cattail in the summer. The eggs hatch into these larvae which winter and feed on the cattail and the cycle continues. This picture was taken with a digital microscope.


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  • Here are a couple more digital pictures. On the left is a fairy shrimp and on the right is a caddis fly larvae both found at the pond.


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  • This is a picture of one of many Mr. Graff’s many summer school classes while collecting macroinvertebrates at the pond in 2004.


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  • More pictures of collecting macroinvertabrates.


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  • This is a list of the various macroinvertabrates found at the pond:

  • Isopods

  • Scuds

  • 3 species of mayflies

  • Several species of dragonfly and damselfly nymphs

  • Several water bugs including: marsh treaders, water scorpions, water striders, water boatman, giant waterbugs, pygmy backswimmers, backswimmers, whirlagig beetles, other beetles, caddisflies, mosquito larvae, phantom midges, craneflies, true midges, water mites and a couple kinds of snails.


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Bulldozers in 1992

  • In 1992 Kris Schilling, middle school science teacher who had been using the pond area with her students, noticed bulldozers filling in the pond in preparation for development. She contacted the owner Jerome Palmquist and he agreed to sell the pond area to the school district for student learning.


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1993 Chlorox Grant

  • In May of 1993 Kris was able to obtain a $10,000 grant from the Chlorox Company Foundation.

  • The pond area, 2.83 acres was purchased for school used for $5,000. from Jerome Palmquist in late 1993.

  • The other $5,000 was used to make improvements.


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Late 1993 Stan Buchanon

  • The problem at the time of purchase was: “How can we make it a pond again?”

  • The pond had been bulldozed and was being prepared for development and didn’t exist. So it had to be rebuilt.

  • Stan Buchanon, a board member for the school district was able to help with this problem.

  • He was able to work out an agreement with county and state officials to have the pond built as a wetland mitigation project.

  • About the time the pond was destroyed the Department of Transportation had been making improvements on county highway B near Silver Lake using federal funds. Some wetlands had been destroyed while making the road improvements so the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) required them to rebuild wetlands to make up for those filled in and damaged during road construction. Therefore, Stan Buchanon was able to get federal funding to pay for 80% of this wetland mitigation project, the county and school district paid the rest. The new pond was constructed by RUST Environmental for about $115,000 in the summer of 1994.


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1994 Future Plans/Survey

  • Kris Schilling had discussed ideas for the new design with her students; here is a schematic for one idea.


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1994 Pond Construction Complete

  • In 1994 Rust Environmental made plans for reconstructing the pond. These include a “grade plan” for elevation, the design for the release valve and a planting plan. The planting plan is the next slide.


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Pond Usage in the late 90’s.

  • The pond became a very important place to learn about various topics. During the late 90’s many classes were making use of the pond. Here are some examples.

  • Kindergarten was using the pond to discuss and observe the seasons. They took field trips in the fall, winter and spring.

  • Some English classes were doing journaling projects.

  • Agriculture classes used the area, several science classes utilized the area for things such as: ecology scavenger hunts, observations, making plant improvements, and identifying organisms in and around the pond to name a few.

  • Several other classes K-12 used the pond.

  • There were at one time somewhere between 25-35 different macroinvertabrates observed by high school aquatic ecology students.


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1999 Easement City/School District

  • The area around the pond was being developed into the Royal Heights/Palmquist Addition around 1999 and so the city made an easement with the school district to use the pond as a storm sewer holding area. This means the school district allowed the city to drain storm sewers into the pond from the new development. While this was not popular with some people because it caused some major ecological changes it was still a good thing overall because this reduces the amount of pollution going directly into Rice Lake or the Red Cedar River.


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The Following Years

  • During the time between 1999 and 2004 several houses were developed in the area and with each big rain storm, sediment and other pollutants drained into the pond. This reduced the diversity of organisms considerably and plant growth increased dramatically changing the ecology of the pond.


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  • By about 2003 the plants had filled up a large area of the pond and did a good job absorbing the incoming nutrients. Clean water from the pond drained to another sewer on the south end of the pond and eventually released into the river.

  • It was getting increasingly difficult to get students (especially small elementary kids) close enough to the open water to take samples or make observations.

  • Sierra Club and the Rice Lake Men’s Club donated money to purchase a dock so students could carry out their lessons. The dock was purchased in the spring of 2004. Thanks 


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  • By 2005 the pond was getting very difficult to use with students and it was quite evident that some changes needed to be made.

  • The city worked hard to dredge the pond and repair the outlet area as well as clean out the incoming storm sewer. They said there were many rats living in the sewer.

  • The city, as part of the 1999 easement agreement is working hard to maintain the pond for both educational purposes and to filter storm sewage.


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  • The following are pictures of the pond in the fall and summer of 2004.


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  • This is a picture of an overgrown trail.


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  • Another picture of an overgrown trail


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  • This picture shows the over growth of plants with new development in the background.


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  • The next 2 pictures are of the damaged outfall area where clean water from the pond is to drain to a storm sewer leading to the river. The drain is buried and clogged.


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  • This is a picture of the clogged storm sewer draining into the pond.


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Dredging in the summer of 2005


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Fall 1995

  • When Kris Schilling received the original grant in 1993 there wasn’t enough money to finish all the plans. The trails were not ever really constructed and no bridges or benches were ever completed. So with the help of Mr. Majewski and Mr. Zuzek along with a the Barron Leadership County Committee we were able to obtain a $20,000 environmental grant from 3M to do bioremediation and rehabilitation. Some of this money was used for the school forest and some was used to develop a trail and add native plants.


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  • Here are some pictures of trail construction


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  • The finished trail goes around the entire pond. The city made a ramp off Royal Crest road to make it handicap accessible.


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  • The ground for the trail was compacted and gravel was added which would allow for infiltration. In late fall of 2005 several classes from high school science and middle school agriculture spent several days planting native plants recommended by Dragonfly Gardens. An estimated 2500 plants were put in. Here is a list of the plants put in and some pictures of the students working on it.

  • Wet species include: Porcupine Sedge, Awl Fruit Sedge, Hop Sedge, Small Fruited Bullrush, Deflexed Bottlerush Sedge, Bebb’s Sedge, Path Sedge, Torrey’s Rush, Ironweed, Sweet Black Eyed Susan, New England Aster, Flat Top Aster, Blue Lobelia, Blue Vervain

  • Mesic species include: Big Bluestem, Switch Grass, Indian Grass, Orange Coneflower, Anise Hyssop, Frost Aster, Grass Leaf Goldenrod


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  • In 1996 students in Mr. Graff's homeroom built benches and Mr. Anderson’s students helped 5th graders build and place bluebird houses around the pond. This was done on Environmental/Community Service Day 2006. Here are some pictures.


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Tansy

  • We are looking forward to a Tansy release project for Environmental/Community Service Day this spring. This plant is an exotic nuisance and is very invasive. It is taking over the pond area and we will be releasing about 15-20 students to pull this plants out so the natives aren’t threatened.This will keep the area as diverse as possible. Learn more about tansy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tansy

http://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/thicket/volume5no1/common_tansy.htm


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  • The learning experiences at the pond or “Outdoor Classroom” would not be possible without all the work that Kris Schilling did to acquire the property and Stan Buchanon did to acquire the funds to rebuild. Many other organizations have contributed: The Chlorox Company Foundation, 3M, Rice Lake Men’s Club, City of Rice Lake and Sierra Club.

  • This is information I could gather from my files; but please keep in mind that this area is used my many other teachers and organizations.

  • People living in the area use it as a walking trail.

  • Local kids use it to “discover nature” in the summer.

  • Thanks for your interest in the pond.

  • Dan Graff, Rice Lake High School Biology Teacher.


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Zamberk Exchange Students


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  • Thank you to our good friends and sister city of Zamberk, Czech Republic for sending us such wonderful students. I hope you enjoyed this presentation.


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