Welcome to the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom's Advisory Committee site
How did an forgotten, trash strewn, buckthorn infested, random bike trail riddled woodland become an outdoor learning area? A group of local neighbors and St. Paul Park and Recreation worked together to make this amazing transformation happen. The Como Woodland is now a place for you to explore and study, listen to birds, see a fox, take a photo of a wildflower in the spring, and learn about this history and story behind Como Park and the Woodland.
Come see for yourself and explore the trails! download a map to find the woodland within larger Como Park.
If you're a teacher, bring your students to listen, write, draw, study, collect data, have a quiet space. For teachers bringing students, the first step is to request a free permit at 651-632-5111. These FREE permits will help to track numbers and activities for grant reporting and maintain an appropriate level of use for the environmental health and sustainability of the outdoor classroom.
Be part of this continuing transformation. Here are ways you can be involved:
- There are both ongoing and periodic volunteer activities to help control the invasive species and assist with planting desired species.
- Join the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom Advisory Committee. Members of this committee provide advice to St. Paul Park and Recreation on the maintenance and ongoing restoration of the woodland, they help plan and volunteer at restoration and special events, and they help teachers get started in an outdoor classroom experience for their students.
- Do you have interpretive or science skills? Can you ID birds, trees, flowers, or butterfies? Because there is no dedicated paid staff to lead students and teachers that visit the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom, your skills and time could be valuable. Contact the Como Woodland Advisory Committee Chair and that person will help you get connected.
CURRENT NEWS AND EVENTS
New Story Map of Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom https://tinyurl.com/CWOCstorymap.
For those of you looking for a quick overview of the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom Guidebook and information posts, check out the new Story Map; Thank you, project Advisor, Britt Forsberg, for putting that together for us.
Como Woodland June Open House Saturday, June 12, 9:30 -11:30am.
Meet at the Kilmer Fireplace to start your walk through the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom at 1221 Wynne Ave., Saint Paul, MN.
*This event is free, but reservations are needed, so please RSVP with committee chairperson: email@example.com
This 17-acre site has eight Minnesota plant communities and a trail system featuring 27 numbered posts with QR codes that correspond with the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom (CWOC) guidebook. Onsite visitors can access an abbreviated CWOC guidebook with a smartphone that is loaded with a QR code reader app or from SPPR website: CW guide QR code update
Information stations along the trails will have CWAC Advisors providing information about CWOC plants, animals, and project history by:
Joan McKearnan, professor of biology & environmental science, Anoka-Ramsey College; Britt Forsberg, University of Minnesota Extension educator; Teri Heyer, Program Specialist-Urban Connections, US Forest Service; Susan Jane Cheney, Dist.10 Environment Committee liaison: Deb Robinson, CWOC project founder. This event will adhere to the current COVID-19 safety required by the City of Saint Paul: stpaul.gov/parks-covid19
2021 City Nature Challenge in the Como Woodland Wrap-up Observations were done on April 30 - May 3.
Edited report from CW Advisor, Britt Forsberg: "Overall, Minneapolis/St. Paul did well this year; 6618 observations, 969 species, 643 observers . . Each of those is higher than last year (although it went from the 11 county metro to the 13 county metro) . . .
The iNaturalist project page is here. There's also the project for CWOC that a Master Naturalist created as a capstone project.”
And, clearly, Joan Brandwein is the top iNaturalist observer at the Como Woodland, and she is a very good photographer of those nature observations. Thank you for taking part in this citizen science bioblitz-style competition between cities around the world, which is a contest to see which city can make the highest number of nature observations and which city can engage the highest number of people.
City Nature Challenge website: https://citynaturechallenge.org Download the free iNaturalist app: https://www.inaturalist.org
Eco Stewards Training Wrap-up from May 6 from 5:30-7:30pm
Edited comments from Tricia Wehrle, SPPR Volunteer Coordinator, Tricia.firstname.lastname@example.org:
"Thank you again for all of you who attended the training yesterday. It was nice to see your faces in person and not just via phone or email. This email should include some of the information I said I would follow-up with . . ."
Condition Report: This is used to track the work you are doing in CWOC and also to show us where you left any weeds for us to pick up. We ask that you try and fill this out after every visit, but if you are not able to please fill it out as soon as possible. Link:https://forms.gle/RaDrT5igV1V14UmEA. Poison Ivy Map: please review and if you see any new locations let us know. Maggie or Pat will go out and treat the areas for you. We are not asking any volunteers to handle this. Link: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1KoqXTRX5bPBlnwYyoWSUal-0J3uP5n-r&usp=sharing
Thank you again and we look forward to working with you this year," Tricia, Maggie and Pat
Como Woodland's Free Self-guided Educational System Open to the Public
CWOC is open for use all year long. And, especially in this time of social distance learning, teachers and public citizens are encouraged to use the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom pathway guide post system located at our 17-acre CWOC site in Como Park. There are QR coded posts which link you to lessons in local natural history and human history throughout the site with plenty of room for safe social distancing. You can also access our online book formatted version of Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom Guidebook: www.stpaul.gov/sites/default/files/Media%20Root/Parks%20%26%20Recreation/CWOC_Guidebook_March2017.pdf
PS: Please stay home if you have any [COIVD-19] symptoms
Shared Pictures from the Como Woodland
Visitors photos are posted on our Natural Resources Tour page.
LAST YEAR'S EVENTS WRAP UP AND NEWS
National Lands Day Seed Collection Event in CWOC recap Held on Saturday afternoon, September 26, 2020.
This was yet another Seed Squad event that filled quickly to our 25 person limit. We harvested native seeds from Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom plant communities; the seeds will later be sown or propagated and planted to increase plant diversity for wildlife and pollinators. Preregistration was required through SPPR Natural Resources: signup page. Thanks to all who participated!
Como Woodland Summer Open House recap
Five family groups joined us for the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom Summer Open House on Saturday morning August 22, 2020.
Como Woodland Advisory Committee members hosted the event. Susan Jane Cheney & Deb Robinson started the visitors with the QR coded guidebook and gave a project overview; Britt Forsberg covered Prairie plants and pointed out pollinators;Teri Heyer covered Oak plant communities; Joan McKearnan covered birds and Wet Forest plant community. That morning there was a lot to see: many fall warblers had dropped in to refuel, chipmunks were busy fighting over acorns, our resident doe with now-grown fawn made an appearance, and lots insect pollinators were enjoying the wildflowers. We hope our human visitors share their Como Woodland nature sightings on iNaturalist (iNaturalist.org).
Yearlong Bird Survey Update From January 2019 to February 2020
Thank you, Michael MacDonald and the many talented birders, who have generously volunteered countless hours to update the bird count for both the Como Woodland area and the Como Lake area, the yearlong count is done. The summary data for the Como Woodland bird count is: Total number of bird species seen - 86; Number of individual birds seen - 1,264; Most sighted bird species - American Robin; 24 species were only sighted once. Summary report: Como Park 2019 Bird Survey Summary
Full final report for Bird Survey: http://www.district10comopark.org/uploads/como_park_bird_survey_2019_report.pdf
District 10 article with Excel doc. pdf of 2006 and 2019 survey : http://www.district10comopark.org/bird_sightings_in_the_park_soar.html
ARCHIVAL EVENTS AND NEWS
Seed Squad Volunteers Como Woodland On September 19, 2019.
There were 15 volunteers for this year's drop-in seed collecting event in CWOC, and the volunteers worked so hard that we finished early. We collected seeds from grey coneflowers and several grasses in Como Woodland's two prairie areas. Those seeds will be propagated and planted in the 2020 growing season to increase plant diversity for wildlife and pollinators in Como Woodland and other natural parkland in St. Paul. This Seed Squad event was organized by our partners in the Saint Paul Parks & Recreation Natural Resources Department.
2019 NATURE SURVEY WALK SERIES – documenting species in Como Woodland
This was a series of six survey walks for the 2019 season. Weather was not always cooperating, but many new people were introduced to the CWOC and contributed to our overall project survey. Over 100 species were recorded, and those results will be posted under in this website under: Tools for Educators/Environmental Ed Resources. Thank you to all the volunteer leaders and participants. (COVID-19 kept us from providing the Nature Survey Walks again in 2020, but we hope to bring back the Walks in 2021.)
Our sixth and final walk, Dragonflies, was held on August 10, 2019. Britt Forsberg, Minnesota Bee Atlas Coordinator with the University of Minnesota Extension and longtime Como Woodland Advisor, returned to lead the event with help from the Minnesota Dragonfly Society, and their goal is " . . . to get people excited about these charismatic little predators while contributing to the actual science of dragonflies and damselflies in Minnesota."
Our first walk, Spring Wildflowers, was held on April 26, 2019; Meghan Manhatton, Natural Resource Specialist, was the leader of this walk; All our plant observations from this walk were included in the 2019 City Nature Challenge. Our second walk was, Birds, held on May 11, 2019; Leader Joan McKearnan, professor of biology & environmental science, helped us add new birds to the CWOC list. Our third walk was Trees & Shrubs held on June 13, 2019; The leader was Tim Morgan of Morgan's Tree Service, who shared his arbor-knowledge with 16 attendees. Our fourth walk was Woodland Animals held June 22, 2019; Leader Joan McKearnan and 15 attendees recorded animals large & small (from a white-tailed deer to white-footed mice). Butterflies & Other Insects was held on July 18, 2019, Leader Britt Forsberg and six others braved the heat to net over 40 sp. of insects.
Farewell & good luck, Jennifer Otremba, an original CW Advisors and volunteer who did the heavy-lift of getting the CWOC project online.
Spring Planting Event On the evening of May 13, 2019, ten volunteers from the community, with coordination from SPPR Natural Resources staff, planted all the trees, shrubs, plants that were bought with donations from District 10 Community Council and a CWAC member. Thanks to all involved.
City Nature Challenge in the Como Woodland & Beyond The 2019 City Nature Challenge took place April 26 - 29. For the metro area we had 5,600 observations, which broke last year's numbers of 3,358 nature observations submitted to iNaturalist website (iNaturalist.org). At the CWOC site we had 75 participants that made over 75 observations. The City Nature Challenge is an annual international effort to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe. It’s a bioblitz-style competition worldwide to see who can make the most observations, find the most species, and engage the most people. It was a wonderful weekend for aspiring citizen scientists, nature and science fans, and people of all ages and science backgrounds to observe and submit pictures of plants, animals, and fungi across the world.
ARCHIVAL EVENTS AND NEWS
EcoStewards Take on Invasive Plants in the Como Woodland In the first year (2015) ten EcoStewards put in an impressive 135 hours of volunteer time working on invasive plant control and removal in Como Woods. While there they also saw and heard birds and someone even found a puff ball mushroom as big as a football. In 2019 we are up to 14 active EcoStewards volunteering in the CWOC, but we could always use more help. For more information about how to become an EcoSteward go to: http://www.stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=5296
For EcoStewards - Invasive Species Survey Need to take a quick look at the Step Method of sampling invasive species? It's posted on this website (Tools for Educators - Environmental Ed Resources page). When you are at your Como Woodland site: copies of the Step Method and Survey Datas Sheets can be obtained from the locked Tool Cache Box (forgot the combo? contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Tricia Wehrle).
Wrap-up of Dedication of Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom It's worth remembering that fine Spring day five years ago when we gathered together with students, teachers, Como Woodland Advisors, and dignitaries – all had assisted in bringing the CWOC project to fruition in one way or another and contributed to the project’s success. It was a day to celebrate the Dedication of the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom (CWOC) on May 20, 2015. READ MORE...
Birding List Show Eighty Species use Como Woodland The Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom (CWOC) has a bird list thanks to the dedicated work of Como Woodland Advisor, Dr. Joan McKearnan, and with financial assistance from CWOC’s long-time project partner, Saint Paul Audubon Society (SPAS). Murray Jr. High School students and Youth Conservation Corps helped collect the data. Como Woodland Advisors, Susan Jane Cheney and Ginger Kopp, helped with student data collection outings. Data collected by Como Park Sr. High School AP students at past spring Field Days were also incorporated into the list as well as bird sightings in the CWOC by local birder, Val Cunningham. Bird survey results from a baseline bird habitat analysis done in 2006 (also funded by SPAS) were compiled with all other sources. All this added up to an impressive 80 bird species sighted in Como Woodland.
District 10 Community Council Environment Committee volunteers update of 2006 bird survey Como Park 2019 Bird Survey Summary