HISTORYThe 100+ acres around Krueger Middle School have been transformed into an environmentally- themed science center. The Krueger Outdoor Environmental Science Center was made possible through grant funding and the cooperation and support of the Michigan City Area School Board, Administration, and staff.
In the fall of 2011, Principal Martha Birkholz and Assistant Principal Vera Jones saw the opportunity to change direction and become an environmentally focused building. By writing a curriculum, applying for grant monies, and enlisting the help of the Krueger staff and community members, the Krueger Outdoor Environmental Science became a reality.
Currently, three areas are completed: the Bird Habitat Trail, the Forest Management Area, and the Savanna Prairie. This fall work will begin on the Wetlands Area, which is located in back of the school. The community is welcome to use the path at any time. Community members are encouraged to explore the trails, or just take a leisurely walk.
Bird Habitat Path
The official opening of the Bird Habitat Trail was May 2013. Located just north of the school across Springland Avenue, Hansen Huckleberry Trail begins after a short walk up the mulched path. The Pavilion which stands at the entrance was built by MCAS personnel and funded through Coastal Grants. It is used by Krueger students throughout the year and by elementary students during Elementary Field Days.
Hansen's Huckleberry Trail is named after Randy Hansen, a former teacher at Krueger Middle School. Several years ago, Mr. Hansen explored the area north of the school building and marked a trail.
In August 2011, Vera Jones, then Assistant Principal at Krueger, was made aware that the old trail was out there. Vera and Brian Schroll, the Environmental Technology teacher, went back to find the old the path that Randy Hansen had planned. Principal Martha Birkholz, Vera, and Brian reworked the trail and began planning for an outdoor classroom. Their final decision was that the Bird Path Habitat would have three trails and twelve learning stations.
All three Bird Habitat Trails start from the Pavilion Area. The Bird Path Trails loop back to the spring pond and then exit approximately one half mile to the east.
Twelve learning stations are located along the trails. Each station has its own focus, information, and activities. Vera directed the building of the trail as it is today and was instrumental in developing the twelve learning stations.
Mr. Schroll's Environmental Technology class was in charge of trail construction. Students cleared the brush and trees and put down mulch for the trails and learning stations. They carried planks and installed the benches. They built and hung the houses for bluebirds, wood ducks, chickadees, bats, and woodpeckers throughout the area. They designed, cut, painted, and installed the wooden trail signs.
Forest Management Area
The Forest Management Area was officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, May 17, 2013. This area consists of a pavilion, a deck overlooking the floodplain area, and eight learning stations located along the half mile of trails.
Then Assistant Principal Vera Jones, City Forester Frank Seilheimer, and Environmental Technology teacher Brian Schroll designed and marked three trails. Environmental Technology students cleared brush, cut down thick undergrowth, and removed stumps. With mulch supplied by the city, students shoveled the mulch into wheelbarrows, carried it to all parts of the path, unloaded it, and spread the mulch. This class also developed the learning stations by making trail signs and benches and installing them along on the trails.
The Forest Management Area has three trails. Trail #1 is the main trail of the Forest Management Area. It begins at the entrance to the Forest Management Area. Trail #1 leaves the entrance, continues past the pavilion and most of the learning stations and is the exit for the area. Trail #2 starts at the pavilion, passes Learning Stations #2 and #3, and ends at the Observation Deck. Trail #3 begins after Learning Station #6 and leads to down to Trail Creek.
Savanna Prairie Area
The land located immediately in back of the school is being transformed to Krueger's Savanna Prairie Area. The goal is to bring back native plants and clear out invasive species. To do this, the Environmental Technology class and the Environmental Science class needed to work together.
Environmental Science teacher Amanda Maycroft and her 8th Grade Environmental Science students worked with Indiana University Northwest students to take a species inventory of the area. This Comparison Plot Area was cleared and tilled by MCAS Plant Planning Department. The Environmental Science students then replanted the area with native species. Environmental Technology students built the fence to surround the area.
The Restoration Area had to be cleared. The Restoration Area, located behind the pine trees, in back of the newly planted Comparison Plot Area, was cleared. A controlled burn was required. The Michigan City Fire Department and City Forester Frank Seilheimer supervised this project.
The Comparison Plot/Restoration Area is monitored by the 8th grade Environmental Science students,
In the Fall of 2016 a new trail was dedicated! The wetlands area located behind the school was restored, with a path and floating boardwalk to allow access to this area.
YET TO COME…
A marsh/pond area and a butterfly habitat are in the planning stages.