2009 Summer Initiative

The summer of 2009 was different from any other summer. The cause was Saint John’s Summer Initiative which was created to provide summer employment for Saint John’s students who were otherwise struggling to find summer employment opportunities.

More than 80 summer positions were created in more than 30 departments on campus, including 20 students with Saint John’s Outdoor University and the Abbey Arboretum!

Such a program is not only beneficial to students, but also to the  Abbey Arboretum and Outdoor U as a whole. The 20 students who were hired that summer were involved in environmental education, prescribed prairie burns, invasive species eradication, as well as maintenance of the trials through bridge building and clean up.

The Crews:

(Most crew members shown below)


brush and burn crew

Brush and Burn Crew

Land Laborer Crew

Bridge and Trail Crew

Environmental Education Crew


The Projects:

Prescribed Burns:

The Burn and Brush Crew, along with volunteers from other crews, took charge of the prescribed burns done on the Abbey Arboretum and neighboring prairies. Three burns occurred in May with a total of 60 acres being burned. Prescribed burns are an important management technique and essential for the health of prairies.

Chapel Bridge Construction:

A new bridge on the Chapel trail was constructed by the Bridge and Trail crew. With the help of all of the crews the bridge was moved in time for the dedication and blessing of the Stella Maris Chapel on June 13th.




Tree Planting: 

During the week of June 15th-19th the Burn and Brush crew, along with the Land Laborers planted on the north side of West Gemini. A number of Red and White Pine, as well as Norway Spruce were planted.


Sugar Shack Additions:

The Bridge and Trail crew took time during the summer to make some new additions to the wood shed near the sugar shack. These additions will increase the much needed storage space for maple syrup equipment as well as for our tractor.


New Trails: 

Crews continued to add to the miles of woodland and prairie trails available at the Abbey Arboretum. Throughout the summer a total distance of one mile of new trails were added. Along with new trails came the jobs of clearing out brush and the additions of three new bridges.


Pickerel Point:

The line between public use and keeping the Abbey Arboretum environment as natural as possible is a fine one. To address erosion problems on Pickerel Point on the Chapel Trail, crews constructed a lookout point complete with a granite and field rock staircase. Other additions include bench seating surrounded by newly planted wildflowers.






Removing Invasive Species:

The Burn and Brush crew was assigned the job of removing invasive Buckthorn and Honeysuckle. Throughout the summer the crew members removed invasive plants from over 60 acres. In this process they either pulled or sawed off and treated over 50,000 invasive plants. When not pulling buckthorn the crew members could be found helping other crews with a variety of different jobs.


Land Labor:

The Land Laborer crew was assigned to a variety of jobs. They were in charge of maintaining and moving the Abbey Arboretum trails, treating eight species of invasive plants, and cutting firewood. Along with these tasks, the crew provided aid on a variety of other jobs.

Environmental Education:

This summer the Education crew not only met with groups in the Abbey Arboretum, but also traveled across the state to provide kids with great learning opportunities. Throughout the summer the crew visited 27 different libraries and taught and interacted with over 700 kids.


Fish Fry:

Though the summer was a lot of hard work for all crews, there was some time to come together and spend some time as a staff.