teens are committed to community service and the Como Woodland
Update by: Deb Robinson, Como Woodland Advisory Committee
Volunteerism is alive and well in the hearts and minds of
local school students. As is the case on many Wednesday afternoons
during the school year, Great River School (GRS) students
were out doing volunteer work in the community. And the benefit
of their service on October 26 was the Como Woodland Outdoor
Classroom (CWOC) project site. Sixteen teens and their teacher,
Enrique Garita, walked from their school to Como Park to help
restore the 17-acre woodland.
Great River School has a long association with volunteerism,
which is an important part of their mission to prepare students
for their unique roles as responsible and engaged citizens
of the world. Great River School also has a long association
with the CWOC going back to 2008 when one of their classes
adopted the Como Woodlands as a project and worked on a variety
of volunteer activities that benefited the site.
In 2011, Great River School applied for DNR Minnesota School
Forest status for the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom. School
Forest status will bring valuable state support and resources
to this urban woodland educational facility in exchange for
a long-term commitment from students and their school forest
GRS students planted 20 flats of prairie plants in the Savanna
Woodland portion of the outdoor classroom. Four Conservation
Corps youth leaders and City of Saint Paul Parks & Recreations
Natural Resources Technician, Meghan Manhatton, provided guidance.
Extra volunteer support on this planting day came from five
Honor Society students from Murray Junior High School and
their science teacher, Tim Chase. After GRS students finished
planting, Murray students spread bales of bluestem grass straw
on any bare earth that remained in the planting area. Three
adult volunteers connected to the projects Advisory Committee
rounded out the crew on October 26.
The Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom received a grant from
the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund a few years
ago. However, the long-term health of this urban woodland
depends on dedicated volunteers like the students of Great
River School, Murray Junior High School, and community members
thanks to all the wonderful CWOC volunteers.
How to get involved with volunteering in Saint Pauls parks
and natural areas: http://www.stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=3811
For more information on the DNR School Forest Program, visit:
Late Summer & Early Fall
Planting Event and Interpretive Tours
Update by: Deb Robinson
Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom site was a beehive of activity
this summer into the fall of 2011. Parks and Recreation’s
Natural Resources staff were busy supervising Minnesota Conservation
Corps, Youth Conservation Corps, and volunteers in removing
invasive trees and plants as well as the planting many native
trees (American elm, basswood, bitternut, and white pine)
and native prairie and floodplain forest plants. Much of the
funding that supported these activities came from the Minnesota
Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (a LCCMR grant
that Como Woodland Advisors and Park & Recreation staff
applied for a few years ago).
Como Woodland Advisors took part in the volunteer activities
whenever possible. The Sedge Meadow Planting on September
17 was one such event. There were 63 enthusiastic volunteers
who showed up at 9AM on an unseasonably cool Saturday morning
– it was perfect weather for a few hours of hard, but
Natural Resources Department staff and interns as well as
19 Youth Conservation Corps members led this event. They had
already prepared the plot of land on the north side of Como
Woodland along Horton Avenue by loosening the soil, spreading
woodchips, and indicating plant spacing with slight indentations
in the chips. The long narrow plot had been divided into four
areas with each area supplied with a water tank, buckets,
tools, and flats of plants.
Natural Resources Technician, Meghan Manhatton, gave some
project background and general information to the crowd of
volunteers. She split the large group into four smaller working
groups. Families with small children were directed to work
in the areas furthest from the Horton Avenue traffic, but
all volunteers were given reflective safety vests to wear.
Each group followed their group leader to one of the four
plots. A few of the Youth Conservation Corps workers were
given the opportunity to develop their leadership skills by
instructing each work group on the correct way to plant. Then
everyone started digging in. Within just a few hours volunteers
had planted thousands of the 26 species including ferns, green-headed
coneflowers, jack-in-the-pulpits, meadow rue, grasses, and,
of course, sedges – the Sedge Meadow (Southern Floodplain
Terrace Forest type) was off to a good start. The Youth Conservation
Corps and Parks & Recreation staff stayed to finish up
and clean up. And the volunteers went off to enjoy the rest
of their Saturday knowing they had started the day right.
Also in September, Como Woodland Advisor and DNR Interpretive
Naturalist, Lisa Held, led two Interpretive Tours of Como
Woodland. The first tour was on a Thursday evening September
8 and was repeated on Saturday morning September 10. Lisa
said, “I decided to go with change as a theme since
that is what we are doing for the woodland, and to let people
know that the things that are being done aren’t just
arbitrary decisions by land managers, and there has been a
long history of changes to Como Park since its inception.”
started her tours at the CWOC’s new staging area: The
recently restored Joyce Kilmer Memorial Fireplace. While tour
attendees were interested in the woodland’s history,
the most frequently asked questions were about identifying
the woodland’s many interesting fall-flowering plants
such as false sunflower, woodland sunflower, white snakeroot,
black-eyed susan, jewel-weed, and the interesting fall berry
clusters of the carrion flower. The native trees were also
of great interest. During the tours, chipmunks were very vocal
and active, but the most exciting sighting was of two white-tailed
deer placidly browsing on the woodland shrubs. Many attendees
were surprised to see these large herbivores living in such
a small urban woodland that (with the exception of the railroad
right of way) is not connected to any other wildlife corridor.
Combined attendance for the two tours was 38 (including seven
children and two teachers from Great River School). Attendees
were given handouts on the CWOC project and told how they
could volunteer to help restore the woodland. The tours were
promoted by press releases placed in the Saint Paul Monitor
and the Park Bugle newspapers, and posted on email blast lists
of District 10 and Parks & Recreation; posters were hung
at local community locations like the Lakeside Pavilion kiosk
and at the Hamline Avenue entrance to the woodland.
Happy with the turnout, Lisa said, “I was thanked for
the tour and even got some applause . . . so positive feedback
for the most part.” And well-deserved thanks it was
– thanks again, Lisa.
Joyce Kilmer Fireplace Redication, Spring Field Day, Arbor
Month Tree Planting
A Great Day of events in the Como Woodland
submitted by: Deb Robinson - Rededication organizer &
Thanks to all the students, teachers, volunteers,
City staff, and guests who took part in and helped prepare
for the CWOC May 19 activities: the Kilmer Memorial Fireplace
Rededication, the Spring Field Day, and the Arbor Month Tree
Planting. The weather was good, the kids were great, and all
three events were well-attended.
Rededication attendance est: 196 (students, teachers, advisors,
City staff, and guests). Many of our project friends, both
old and new, attended the Rededication. A few guests came
from as far away as Texas (John Covell, Kilmer biographer
and speaker) and Colorado (Chuck Doole, Dutch Oven memory
contributor). Great granddaughter of Joyce Kilmer, Rosamond
Kilmer Spring, attended as well as many members of the LaMont
Kaufman family. The edited version of the Rededication ceremony
is showing on the St. Paul Government cable channel and is
also posted on YouTube at this link:
Articles about the May 19 Rededication appeared in our area's
two major newspapers.
Paul Pioneer Press: 5-20-2011, p. 8B.
Tribune: 5-20-2011, p. 2B.
Outstanding Neighborhood Volunteers
On January 21, 2011, Como Woodland project advisors, Matt Schmitt and Sharon Shinomiya, received Saint Paul Neighborhood Honor Roll Volunteer Awards. The annual awards ceremony brings well-deserved attention to community volunteers in seventeen of St. Paul’s District Councils. Sharon and Matt have been long-time, hard-working volunteers in the Como Park neighborhood in general and dedicated volunteer advisors to the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom. Thank you, Sharon and Matt!
In September and October of 2010, perfectweather greeted 139 Chelsea Heights and Como Park Elementary school students as they enjoyed their guided educational walking tours of the Como Woodland.
Three tour guides, volunteer Como Woodland Advisors, taught the students about urban woodlands, the benefits of trees and the history of the Kilmer Memorial Fireplace (a.k.a. Dutch Oven).
After the tours, each of the five classes participated in Poet-tree Workshops conducted in their schools by professional poet and educator John Minczeski. The combination of outdoor and classroom education helped the students retain and contextualize the information. Each class’s group poem will be printed in the Kilmer Fireplace Rededication booklet to commemorate the fireplace restoration. And the group poems will be recited at the Rededication May 19, 2011.
October 23, 2010
Connecting Youth to Nature through Digital Photography Teacher Workshop.
St. Paul Parks and Recreation and Minnesota DNR hosted a FREE event for 27 teachers. It was a four-hour standards-based workshop. The workshop included a digital cameras tutorial, basic photo tips, a hands-on photo activity, review and discussion about the photos taken during an outdoor photo activity, downloading and editing techniques, and student project ideas. The workshop showed how to enhance teachers’ curriculum, not add to it!
August 17, 2010
Habitat Restoration Event
Habitat Restoration Event at Como Woodland Outdoor
Project volunteers helped remove heaps of burdock. CWAC first volunteer event in the CWOC with the city’s volunteer coordinator Beth Albrecht.
May 20, 8:30 - 2:30. Spring Field
Como Sr. High students collect bird, vegetation, and invasive plants study data. Another great Field Day with Como Park Sr. High School students. We had 35 participants (20 AP students, 14 volunteer mentors, 1 teacher).
Deb Robinson 2010 Volunteer of the Year award
In May the Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County honored Deb Robinson as the "2010 Park Volunteer of the Year." This was in recognition of her dedicated service in bringing together the many volunteers and the St. Paul Park and Recreation Department that make the Como Woods Outdoor Classroom project happen.
April 28, 2010. Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom recieves
Saint Paul Award for Green Spaces from Mayor Chris Coleman.
The awards pay tribute to individuals and organizations that
have demonstrated a commitment to environmental stewardship
through leadership in their respective categories. These efforts
enhance the City’s quality of life and make Saint Paul
the Most Livable City in America. The Green Spaces Award honors
community groups and residents who replant, restore, and reclaim
the urban environment into opportunities for the social and
April 10, 2010. Deb Robinson receives Honored Volunteer Award.
The founder of the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom project
received a well-deserved award. " The City of Saint Paul,
Department of Parks and Recreation hereby acknowledges Deb
Robinson for her leadership on the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom,
in the Como Lake Strategic Planning Process, and with the
Como Lake Shoreland Vegetation Management Task Force. In photo:
left to right: Ward 5 City Councilman Lee Helgen, Deb Robinson,
and Senator Ellen Anderson.
April 15, 2010. History sub-committee gives
history site tour to Prof. Brian Hoffman (Hamline U) to consider
CWOC and surrounding area for possible community Archaeology
April 10, 2010. Spring Park Clean-up; Met
at Kickoff event where Advisor receives Park & Recreation
Dept. Valued Volunteer Award; est. 10 volunteers went to clean-up
Como Woodland site.
March 19, 2010. School Forest/Education Group
review – meet at Hamline Maintenance Building.
January 11, 2010. Website redesign workshop.
24, 2009. Buckthorn Bust in Como Woodland –
September 25, 2009. Fall Field Day with Como
HS in Como Woodland.
September 22, 2009. CWOC grant proposal presentation
to LCCMR – State Capitol Office Building.
September 21, 2009. Field Day mentor training
at Como Park HS.
August 14, 2009. Kilmer Memorial Fireplace
committee research dig at Park & Rec office.
June 25, 2009. CWOC advisor received award
from Friends of Parks & Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey
June 13, 2009. Season of Renewal Lake Clean-up.
CWOC has information booth, and helps clean-up lake.
May 31, 2009. Elm tree planting in Como Woodland
May 26, 2009. CIB public hearing at City
Hall – advisors and friends carpool to hearing.
May 22, 2009. Spring Field Day with Como
Park HS – 21 students and mentors participate.
May 18, 2009. CIB committee meeting, St.
Paul downtown public library, carpool to meeting.
May 16, 2009. Garlic Mustard Pull. 30 volunteers
(26 Josh’s students)
May 13, 2009. Como Woodland Stewardship Award
given to Tami’s GRV class with Eco Education.
May 2, 2009. Season of Renewal/Arbor month
tree planting event by Streetcar Station, advisors participate.
May 1, 2009. CWOC submits proposal to LCCMR
April 15, 2009. Great River School students
haul brush from CWOC annex site
April 11, 2009. Spring Parks Clean-up. Meet
at Kickoff, 10 volunteers clean up Como Woodland.
March 30, 2009. CWOC CIB Taskforce proposal
presentation – CWOC received high rating.
January – April 2009. Como Pool Replacement
Taskforce – 3 advisors participate in 11 meetings.
January 12, 2009. St. Paul Capital Improvement
Budget (CIB) proposal submitted for restoration of Kilmer
Memorial Fireplace on CWOC site.
11, 2008. Buckthorn Bust (with Together Green) -
161 volunteers (includes 95 students
October, November, December 2008: Advisors
volunteer with Great River School/Eco Education - GRS
Class (24) took woodland site history tour; advisors researched
and wrote history tour; advisors gave
Class informational on invasive species at woodland and mini
buckthorn bust; Bryan Murphy presented
Class Master site plan; advisor attended meeting with class
regarding CIB process; advisors helped research blue bird
houses and tree guards, helped reinforce bird houses.
September 19, 2008. Field Day with Como Park
Sr. H., 26 students & 12 mentors.
August 18, 2008. Final Site Plan review.
Aug. 5, 2008. Burdock Pull in Como Woodland,
,Youth Care workers: 15, volunteers: 3.
July 20, 2008 - Our Fall '07 Field Day Featured
on Minnesota Bound - The show aired on KARE 11's Minnesota
Bound on July 20 and 26, 2008. The Como Park High School students
who were featured as they collected data in the Como Park
woodland are all great such kids and it really came through.
June 30, 2008. Draft Site Plan Review -
We reviewed 3 draft plans from St. Paul City landscape architects.
May 28, 2008. Garlic Mustard Pull.
May 23, 2008. May Field Day with Como Park
Senior High School and B2REU (Bridge to Research Experience
for Undergraduates) at the Como Woodland site.
May 15, 2008. Mentor Training Meeting - Prepare
mentors there will be a mentor training: review field equipment
April 12, 2008. Spring Cleanup at Como
Woodland - Drop-in at the Como Lakeside Pavilion for the City’s
Kickoff Event at 8:30AM for a free bagel - then join us at
November 7, 2007. CIB public hearing. City
Hall – advisors and project supporters carpool to hearing.
October 27, 2007. BUCKTHORN BUST in Como
Woodland – 170 signed in volunteers.
October 4, 2007. Field Day with Como High
School students. – 81 students and mentors.
August 14, 2007. Volunteers help with storm
clean-up in Como Park.
Summer 2007 Updates: CWOC CIB proposal has
survived the committee process and moves on to the Mayor and
City Council. Joan's Bird Habitat Analysis is nearly complete.
CWOC concept draft site plan, done by the Metropolitan Design
Center, is done. Our birding kit (bought with COPP funding)
is getting lots of use with the special education student
August 8, 2007. EcoPartners is holding a
shoreline maintenance event on Wednesday evening; Volunteers
will meet at the information kiosk behind the Como Lakeside
July – Aug. 2007. Bird Habitat Analysis
data collection, Volunteer help for Prof. Joan McKearnan
July 18, 2007. The City Council voted unanimously
to maintain the "no net loss" of parkland in the
charter – advisors testified on behalf of “no
Jun. 7, 2007. CIB Public Hearing, project
advisors and friends carpool to hearing to testify.
Jun. 6, 2007. Como woodland evaluated for
possible vernal pool by Ramsey Conservation District staff.
June 12, 2007. June Meeting. Randee Edmundson,
District Science Specialist for SPPS, will talk with project
Advisors about building sustainable partnerships, and the
Ames Lake Restoration.
May 22, 2007. Garlic Mustard Pull in Como
Woodland. Pulling and bagging done by 24 volunteers.
May 18, 2007. Woodland Tree planting event
in Como Woodland – 51 volunteers
May 7, 2007. CWOC project presentation to
St. Paul Audubon Society board.
April 14, 2007. Como Park Cleanup, in Como
Woodland - 13 volunteers
March 24. 2007. - Sample Tree Inventory with
Paul (from Tree Trust). 10:30am to 2:00pm
March 19, 2007. Present our proposal to CIB
Committee, St. Paul Pubic Library.
December 13, 2006. City Park Commission
Meeting – commission approves CWOC moving forward.
November 8, 2006. CWOC presentation to St.
Paul Park Commission; ask permission to use site.
Oct. 28, 2006. Como Woodland Buckthorn Bust
- 116 volunteers November 16, 2006. CWOC presentation to Friends
of Parks & Trails Board of Directors
October 17, 2006. CWOC presentation at Community
October 7, 2006. Como Woodland Buckthorn Bust - 20 volunteers.
Summer 2006 - Input gathering sessions: Design
Recommendation meeting, July 26; Tree Trust & CGEE site
tours, Aug. 8; Park & Rec Maintenance Dept. input, Aug,
10; City Planning & Design Dept. input, Aug. 25; City
Environmental Services Dept. input, Sept. 14, 2006; District
10 Community Council input, Sept. 19, 2006.
July 20, 2006. CWOC project presentation
to Ramsey Conservation District
J uly 15, 2006. First Advisory Committee
meeting – 11 attend.