Phenology Learning Path
About the Path
There is a walking path that winds throughout the CMN Keshena campus, including about a half mile section that runs along the East side through a mixed northern hardwood forest, an old field forest succession, and a wetland edge. Dubbed the “Learning Path”, CMN faculty, students, and SDI staff have worked to develop the trail into an interactive education tool by utilizing this outdoor environment to generate and communicate forest ecology educational content in innovative ways. The Learning Path uses various electronic media, such as QR codes (that can be accessed by a smart phone, Ipad or Iphone), GPS mapping tools, and digital media, and along with Menominee language and culture.
Among the benefits this offers are two unique advantages that are difficult to duplicate with other educational means. The first is the value of using a physical exhibit. Particularly regarding the natural world, it is often very challenging to communicate concepts without the benefit of referencing a “real-life” example. While it can be done in the abstract, a physical exhibit is frequently more effective to the point of being profound – people not only “get it”, but they typically remember/retain the concept and application far better. The second is the ability to concentrate a substantial number of “exhibits” in a relatively small area. This affords the opportunity to tailor a tour or other group activity to the specific needs of the group, as well as being able to offer a comprehensive overview in as little as a few hours’ time.
Another interesting element of the Learning Path is the way information is presented. The information is intended to be interactive. Interested students and community members who would like to see how this work is done can participate in citizen science data collection and assist in the monitoring of plant phases.
The pathway currently covers the entire forested area along the East side of the campus. While the boundaries do not need to be specifically delineated, the primary site is anchored on the south end by the meeting shelter currently being built with Eagan Foundation funds, and the one hectare training plot recently installed on the north end. The walking trail that currently runs from the greenhouse to the Commons bldg. has been expanded north to connect to the training plot.
Along the trail exhibits showcase various ecological features such as tree species, learning stations and significant understory species.
Using the Trail
Plants along the trail are marked with both red and green signs. Learning Path signs, which are small and green, are marked with the Menominee name first, followed by the scientific name, common name, and a brief description. The Phenology Stations, marked by larger red and white signs, include more detailed information such as the leaf, flower, and fruit phenophases with a description and accompanying photograph.
Community members and students wishing to act as citizen scientists along the trail are welcome to get an account on Nature’s Notebook. Nature’s Notebook is a site hosted by the USA National Phenology network which allows anyone to record data on the phenophases of a particular plant. While setting up your account, find the Partners box, expand “Colleges and Universities” and find College of Menominee Nation Phenology Walk to be taken to our page. Users can also download an app to record their data on the go.