Pioneer School: A Day in the Woods

At 9 AM Wendesday morning, a thin sheet of ice built itself upon well-worn trails in the upland transitions at Round Lake State Park.  It preyed upon moist congregates of air rising onto the lake, and made a slick start to the morning atmosphere.

pioneer first pic
Ranger Chuck interprets Natural History of Round Lake. Photo courtesy: Kristen Nowicki

Just after the winter dawn, people can be seen already gathered around small holes in the ice at the end of the piers there.  A fog surrounding them clouded the view to the other side.  Sounds echoed across the lake.  Fish underneath. Dreams for possibility endless…

We lit a fire in the stone-lined fireplace sheltered in the woods near the Parking Area. In time, students filtered down to the warming hut for Winter Tracks.  There, they were greeted by FSPW, Round Lake State Park, and Interpreter Brian Baxter.  Volunteer Shane Sater facilitated a round-robin introduction by the students to everyone present.

pioneer next
Pioneer students enjoy a warm lunch during their Winter Tracks experience. Photo courtesy: Kristen Nowicki.

The Park Ranger Chuck Gross said hello and introduced the park’s natural history.  Brian Baxter led the students into a moment of silence in the woods, and an opportunity to explore the world around them through their varied senses.  The children cited many experiences such as bird calls, campfire smells, and breezes.

We had fun in the shelter and roasted our lunches on the fireplace in style.

Pioneer 4th-5th graders on the tracking trail. Photo courtesy: Kristen Nowicki.

Later on donning snowshoes and heading out down the trail, the ecotones expressed along the Swamp Tromp Trail were a fun and unique natural resource to behold.  We set the cameras along a backwater slough at the lowland edge.


Setting up a motion camera observation study site. Photo courtesy: Becky Reynolds.


Cat cubby creation. Photo courtesy: Kristen Nowicki.





Musk. Gettin’ ‘funk’y with it. Photo courtesy: Kristen Nowicki.

Chris assisted his kids in affixing the call lure to the tree.  The kids had fun, although maybe they’d prefer a more perfume-like attractant?

The weather cleared to sunny as the afternoon took hold.  The kids returned home, tired and stronger, and their facilitators were encouraged with bright thank-yous at the end of the day.

Winter Tracks, 2015! Photo Courtesy: Shane Sater.

Thank you PIONEER SCHOOL STUDENTS!, and Round Lake State Park and partners, and all the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, and Silverwood Associates and partners for making this great event possible! We look forward to volunteer monitoring of this station and a return visit by our children to remove lures to leave no trace, and learn from the images we chance to discover.

Share this Page


  1. Nice Piece Kristen, well written and great photo’s ! Thank You !-Bri

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.