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Students Learn to Plant the Seeds of Conservation
at Genoa National Fish Hatchery

La Crosse Garden Club members working in Genoa National Fish Hatchery’s pollinator garden/USFWS.
La Crosse Garden Club members working in Genoa National Fish Hatchery’s pollinator garden/USFWS.

Genoa National Fish Hatchery has renewed a partnership with the La Crosse Garden Club in an effort to connect children with nature, and beautify the hatchery’s grounds. From asters to zinnias this group provides an unmatched knowledge base about plant types, planting conditions, and what simply looks good. The only thing that this group is lacking is able bodied youngsters to share their knowledge with.

To address that problem, we turned to the Summit Environmental Elementary School in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Together we have laid out the framework for a multi-year planting exercise that will enlist the fifth graders from the classes of Erica Rasmussen and Marty Maus. The plan is to have each spirited student plant and nurture seeds from two vegetables and two native prairie plants in their classroom. Then on Earth Day, April 22, they will come to the hatchery and cultivate their plants in either a vegetable garden or native prairie garden on the hatchery grounds.

Following cultivation, maintenance and upkeep will be done by hatchery staff until fall harvest. Any production in the vegetable garden will be distributed to the new incoming fifth grade class at Summit. This year we have decided to try our hand at planting tomatoes and peppers in the vegetable garden, and sunflowers and coneflowers in the native prairie garden.

Hopefully the native prairie gardens will reseed themselves and continue to grow from year-to-year, resulting in beautiful prairie gardens around the hatchery. The vegetable gardens will show the importance of planning something for the future. Just as students enjoyed the fresh vegetables when they started school, they can leave the same gift for the next fifth grade class. From there the lesson can expand and teach the students to protect and preserve nature and wild places so that it can be enjoyed by the future, just as they are currently enjoying it today. This is a goal that Genoa National Fish Hatchery, La Crosse Garden Club and Summit Elementary can commit to.

-- Jorge Buening

Last updated: March 31, 2014