FLHS Ag students complete outdoor classroom

Project was completed over five years

Forest Lake High School Agriculture Department students recently finished installing a small landscape arboretum and outdoor classroom. A variety of plants were installed from the National FFA’s Nursery/Landscape Career Development Event materials list to create a functional laboratory environment for identification and plant maintenance.

“The outdoor classroom was a vision of our colleague Bob Marzolf to provide an environment where students had access to a variety of plant materials for study and a space for laboratory activities that were difficult to conduct in our limited facilities,” said Mike Miron, one of the program’s three agriculture teachers.

The entire project has been funded through a variety of grants and sponsorships. Dan Sandager of Abrahamson Nurseries provided the design work and Twin Lakes Landscapes operated by Kurt Schrader facilitated the final installation.
Additionally, Dave Kleinhuizen of Hardwood Creek Nursery donated the trees for the area.

Students worked cooperatively to complete the final installation of plants, walkways, mulch and sod in one day!

“This effort would not have been possible without the support of several of our agricultural advisory board members who donated their time, expertise and resources to provide this experience for our students,” Miron said.

“We are fortunate to have the support of our community who continue to invest in opportunities that contribute to student learning.”

The work began more than  five years ago with the installation of a rain garden and paver patio. Later, a rod iron fence was constructed by the late Lyn Ruetten and students in the high school’s industrial technology program.

Last year a hoop greenhouse was built to provide additional growing space to allow for more diverse plant materials as part of the department’s plant science curriculum.

In addition to the in kind labor and equipment, dollars were provided through grants from the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council and AgStar Financial Services. The mulch came from Central Wood Products. The local FFA chapter also provided dollars through chapter fund-raising efforts to support this project.

“While this project took some time to bring to completion it is exciting to see a usable space for student learning that also provides an attractive entrance to the school’s south parking lot,” Miron said.