On May 26, 2022, 49 4th graders and 8 chaperones from St. John’s Elementary School participated in Clinton Conservation District’s (CCD) Arbor Day program along with MUCC’s On the Ground Junior (OTG Jr.) program. Students planted 250 mast-producing tree seedlings in the north end of the E Unit at Maple River State Game Area (SGA). Species included serviceberry, cranberry, crabapple, and/or hazelnut. After planting, students secured tree tubes around each seedling to protect them from browsing wildlife.
These masting trees will provide a consistent food source for wildlife in the form of seeds, fruits, nuts and buds. Mast is a particularly important component of healthy wildlife habitat in fall and winter when other food sources are becoming scarce and wildlife need to prepare for a long, cold winter. Not only will these trees provide nutrients to wildlife like deer and turkeys, but they will also serve as critical cover and nesting habitat for a variety of wildlife like songbirds and small mammals.
After the habitat project, students participated in archery lessons, duck ID, and an active predator-prey simulation lead my MUCC and CCD staff.
MUCC’s On the Ground Junior program is an extension of On the Ground and is supported by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. OTG Jr. is a fully-funded habitat improvement field trip program and is offered to grade school classrooms throughout the state. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact MUCC Habitat Volunteer Coordinator Kristina Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org.