Iron River National Fish Hatchery:
Students Help to Welcome Pollinators
BY CAREY EDWARDS, IRON RIVER NFH
main hatchery building entrance with ornamental butterfly gardens and fruiting trees.
It seems like the buzzword these days is “pollinator” and rightly so. They are an integral part of the world’s life cycle. Efforts to cultivate areas where pollinators can reproduce, feed and grow are in effect across the country. The Iron River National Fish Hatchery (NFH) in northern Wisconsin is also doing its part to provide safe harbor for pollinators.
Coming back for the seventh year to assist with pollinator projects is the Iron River Elementary School 5th grade class. This year’s efforts were put forth in beautifying the main hatchery building entrance with ornamental butterfly gardens and fruiting trees and seeding a freshly tilled area with native grasses and milkweed. Two small raised flower beds were planted with butterfly loving plants like salvia and phlox and ten fruiting trees (crabapple, pear and cherry) were planted to beautify the area as well as provide areas where pollinators can feed and rest.
A neighboring farmer prepared the land in which we wanted the native seeds sown. The grass seed was donated by a member of the Friends of the Iron River Hatchery.
Milkweed seeds were collected in the fall and stored in the refrigerator until ready to cast in the loose soil by the students. Before heading back to school, the students were able to tour the hatchery and cool off after a hot morning in the sun.
With a little bit of elbow grease and a lot of teamwork, a very successful and rewarding project was accomplished. The students were able to learn about gardening, butterflies and native plants as well as gain awareness of fish hatchery processes. Stay tuned to see how well the native plantings grew and for future pollinator projects at the Iron River NFH.