The Ethnobotanists of Willow Creek: Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School

It was a very chilly morning on Wednesday, November 2nd but that didn’t stop Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School students, teachers, and parent volunteers from arriving on time and ready to restore Willow Creek!  Students gathered round and met our volunteers from Glencoe High School, Maria and Lupe.  We were so happy to have their help!

Students broke up into three different groups and off we went!  Students took water quality measurements of WIllow Creek in one station, planted native trees and shrubs in another, and learned the ways people have used such trees and shrubs historically in the last!

We learned the meaning of the word enthnobotany through a fun activity Meghan (SOLV) designed for us.  Ethnology is the study of cultures and botany is the study of plants so together ethnobotany means the ways cultures have used plants.  We learned that Red Osier Dogwood produces white and blue berries which are eatable and delicious in cakes, Ash trees provide great firewood, and Douglas Spirea was often the twigs people used to cook or smoke salmon with.  Students had to really think creatively and logically about how not only wildlife depend on these native plants, but how people have as well.  Conservation took on a whole new level of importance with this activity!

Students did a great job identifying these species on our nature walk and while planting them at the new area of our site.  And now we may just look for these species with a new eyes for berries and useful parts of these plants in the future!

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