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Getting hands-on ... with the community

Volunteers help Sunnyside Elementary School first-graders build birdhouses in the Red Wing High School woodshop. From there the children went down the hall to work with a RWHS student to paint their creation. (Republican Eagle photo by Michael Brun)

Red Wing High School opened its doors Friday to first-graders from Sunnyside Elementary School for a morning of Earth Day activities.

The event was part of RWHS’s annual Day of Caring and Sharing, in which hundreds of students signed up to participate in community service projects around the city.

At the high school, volunteers lead more than 200 first-graders through educational sessions with an environmental theme, such as building and painting birdhouses, science lessons and exotic animal displays.

“It’s a blast,” RWHS senior Mitch Ramstad said Friday morning while helping to guide children near the high school woodshop. “The kids are a lot of fun.”

Animal encounters On the other side of the school, gasps of “wow” and “cool” could be heard in the media center during snake and reptile demonstrations by Tom Sasse.

Students in Amy Pearson and Kate Maki’s grade 1 classes got to see up close a variety of critters from all over the world, including a red-footed tortoise, blue-tongued skink, bearded dragon and a massive bull snake — the largest snake found in Minnesota, Sasse said. The presentation ended with an opportunity for the children to line up and pet the snake as they filed out of the room and onto the next activity.

More animals were on display outside the science classrooms. As students ran around the lawn area, they got to learn about and meet species including foxes, dingoes, armadillos and llamas.

In other parts of the city, students, teachers and community volunteers went to work in crews cleaning up and beautifying the local environment.

Projects included clearing trails and brush at Billings-Tomfohr Conservation Area on Coon Hill, Memorial Park, Colvill Park and near the Goodhue County Historical Society Museum, said Michelle Leise, coordinator for Live Healthy Red Wing.

The day’s events were organized by Red Wing FFA students with assistance from Live Healthy Red Wing, the school district, city of Red Wing and more than a dozen local organizations and businesses.

Many of the outdoor activities were planned with help from the Environmental Learning Center, Friends of the Bluffs and Master Gardeners.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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