RC elementary students preparing pollinator garden

News Photo by Jordan Spence Rogers City Elementary School students work in the front of the school to prepare the area for the installation of a pollinator garden Friday. The school partnered with the Northeast Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative for its efforts.

ROGERS CITY — Elementary students had to dig deep to remove weeds with deep roots.

The third- and fourth-graders worked in shifts Friday to prep an area in front of Rogers City Elementary School for a pollinator garden.

“(The garden) had pretty much become overgrown. It had spotted knapweed which is an invasive species,” teacher Diane Smuda said. “We also looked at the front of the kindergarten walls there. Then down in the bus lot, there’s another area three to four times the size of this spot surrounded by cement. We’re thinking maybe a rain garden down there. This is our fall project and that will be our spring project.”

She said the day’s activities were about garden preparation.

“Today was about getting things prepped for planting; taking out the old stuff, pulling the weeds and the rocks. In about two weeks or so we’ll put in some native species,” Smuda said.

Huron Pines Americorps Education Coordinator Olivia Rose said it was a day full of hard work.

“We got a lot got done today. This was the only thing done today. The hope is this is the launching point for this school, to develop more gardens. This one is a pollinator garden providing habitat for bees, butterflies. This one (in front of the kindergarten room) they’re wanting to do milkweed. Since it’s such a durable plant it can be anywhere and that’s really sandy soil and it’s a good place to test it out. There’s another spot in the back we’re wanting to do a rain garden. Wendy here from Huron Pines helping out and a lot of parent volunteers helping out which is really, really nice,” Rose said.

Smadu said she hopes the students learn about natural habitats versus one with invasive species.

“We hope they learn a native habitat can better survive on it’s own, attract pollinators for continuous growth and maintenance,” Smuda said.

Alisa Clement, 8, said the students had fun while they worked in the dirt.

“Well today we were taking out all the roots. We had to get down and dirty and now my knees are all dirty. I think we were about an hour. Other classes have been out working too. We’re learning and making this thing and learning about plants and gardens and outdoors stuff,” Clement said.

Madison McFray, 8, said she learned that when people garden they must be careful not to hurt beneficial bugs like worms.

“Digging it up (weeds) was hard. Some of them were hard to get so I had to have some help from my friends,” McFray said.

Jordan Spence can be reached via email at jspence@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687.