Join Hands Day is a popular time to consider an outdoor activity, like garden work. This year, the weather was favorable for several Western lodges to put on their work boots and get dirty. As with all Join Hands Day projects, the lodges are encouraged to work with others in the community and get youth involved.
Adams No. 193, Adams, WI, has been planting trees as a Join Hands Day project for several years. Every year, members Richard and Cleo Hendricksen organize an event at their farm, the Fall Cycle Tree Farm. In 2005, the Cottonville Fire went through the property and destroyed a large white pine plantation. The Hendricksen's have been working to restore the area with new growth.
|Fourth graders and adults planting trees.|
To organize, they schedule a day that works with the WI Woodland Owners Association (WOA), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the A-F Elementary fourth grade class. They have worked with these groups for around ten years on various projects. The fourth graders come out and plant red pine trees with assistance from No. 193 members and WOA to chaperone and help them. This year, the 90 children managed to plant over 200 trees in a few hours, working in two group shifts.
No. 193 Secretary Cleo Hendricksen commented, "The kids were very well-mannered and curious. They really wanted to plant."
|Youth and adult participants watch the saw mill work.|
The kids are also treated to a demonstration held by a neighbor after planting. He brings his sawmill and shows the kids how logs are cut. It's very educational, as the trees the kids planted are part of a long-term investment that the Fall Cycle Tree Farm won't make a first cut for another fifteen or twenty years, when the pines are ready for logging. As it matures, it has become a habitat for wildlife.
The fourth graders also get to see big trucks brought by the DNR, and a two-man saw demonstration to show how logging used to be done. This year, the kids were sent with a package of s'mores each, but in years where a fire is okay, the s'mores are cooked for them on the farm.
For Join Hands Day, Zare Svobody No. 38, Austin MN, planted milkweed seeds with the help of a youth group from Grand Meadow Lutheran Church. The seeds were planted at plots owned by Dorothy and Jerry Denisen and Jack and Cathy Bly in hopes of creating habitats for monarch butterflies.
The idea came about because members have planted their own milkweed and butterfly-friendly bushes in the past. Quite a few members participated and it was a nice activity since many of them have extensive knowledge about planting and growing flowers.
|The youth group helps plant milkweed seeds.|
The monarch population in North America has decreased by 90% in just 20 years, according to the National Wildlife Federation. Native milkweed varieties are important because the eggs can only be laid there and the caterpillars eat them exclusively. The plants should be free of insecticide, and there are online resources to find types of milkweed native to various parts of North America.
"Any area is an ideal spot for a butterfly garden. As long as the soil can support growth and receives enough sun for the flowers to boom, it is a nice location," said No. 38 Correspondent Ellie Haeska. In the past, members have started a garden with either seeds or established young plants.
The youth group was very excited to work and contributed a lot of energy to the project. Haeska commented, "It is both amusing and refreshing to work with children, and to view the world from their perspective." She added, "Being able to pass on information (about planting) to members of our YELL! group and the youth group was a great way for us to spend Join Hands Day."
When planting was complete, everyone enjoyed a bonfire and wiener roast.
Call 877-935-2467 to speak with a Western Fraternal Life Representative.