Before I retired in 2006, I was the principal of a large alternative school in Rochester, MN. There were a lot of requirements for students to qualify to attend an alternative school in Minnesota, and one of them was to be at risk for graduation from high school. Students with a criminal record qualified almost immediately. As I made my way to work at the Visitors Center this morning, it was almost like a step back in time. You see, a small group of young men and a young lady from the county had been assigned community service time to help the refuge clean up the gardens around the VC.
It’s a long and varied story how I ended up in alternative education, but today reminded me why I enjoyed it so. These young folks are real people who’ve had some real challenges in their lives, and made mistakes, but are trying to work things out. I can tell you that they did one bang up of a job today. With the sequestration and cuts in staff, there just aren’t enough people to keep the facilities up to snuff as they were maintained in the past. A couple of volunteers can only do so much. They weed whacked, mowed, pulled weeds, raked, and got the grounds looking spiffy. They were happy to do it, as they said, “It sure beats picking up trash along the highways!”
Fellow volunteer Lynn was in charge of this brigade, and she did a marvelous job getting them to take pride in their work for the community. I can tell you that my back was sure aching after all the weed pulling.
While the ‘crew’ went for lunch, Lynn and I took a walk down the trail to find some early spring flowers blooming. She said these were a variety of phlox. I remember picking phlox blossoms as a kid, and sucking the sweetness out of the flower stems. Can you tell that we had some more rain showers today?
We also came upon this pretty little bell shaped flower. Don’t know what it is, but I’m sure she’ll figure it out. After all of the cold weather we’ve had, it sure was nice to see something blooming.
Once the clean up was done, I headed for the refuge to take a drive around Shoveler Pond. Lots of roseate spoonbills resting in their favorite place along with egrets and a bunch of gadwall and coots.
I also came upon a young white-faced ibis that was being stalked by a snowy egret.
That egret was following right behind the ibis. As the ibis probed into the muck and mire, the egret took advantage of any little fish that were disturbed.
I guess there’s more than one way to ‘skin a cat’! What an interesting relationship between these two species.
I have the next three days off, and I’m hoping to finally see the sun again. How nice would that be?
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy