As we close out the school year, we enjoy playing host to students from area schools.
Raintree Montessori School, Lawrence, Kansas
Erdkinder Class (7th-8th grades), May
The Raintree Erdkinder ("children of the earth," as Maria Montessori christened the natural state of adolescence) visit is always special because these teens help us with an important yearly task: our Holistic Ecological Monitoring.
Each May as the school year closes out, the Erdkinder class treks out to the "Raintree Pasture," a native tallgrass paddock, for the first monitoring of the year. We monitor three pastures on the Tallgrass Network Demonstration Farm, and are adding more as we grow. Having this assistance is invaluable! They also get some time for R&R, meeting the animals, and learning about the history of our Demonstration Farm.
Ecological Monitoring should be conducted each year by the same individuals, to ensure consistency year to year in how the data is collected. So, with the assistance of teachers and Tallgrass Network leaders, this year's eighth-graders -- who learned how to perform the monitoring last year -- led their teams to gather data about the soil surface. They looked at the indicators we measure for water cycle, energy cycle, mineral cycle, and community dynamics.
This data is entered into the Savory Global Data Platform for year-to-year analysis. Although we have only preliminary results, a first crunch of the numbers indicates this pasture saw a significant decrease in bare soil over the past year, and an increase in diversity of and number of forbs.
We compare this information to our Holistic Context, which describes the path we want for our future resource base. We desire improvement in our water cycle, which is aided by covered soil, and an increase in our energy cycling and community dynamics, both indicated by the forbs. This tells us our management plan is leading us in the right direction.
As we analyze the results more in-depth, and also add more data as we monitor throughout the peak of growing season, we will undoubtedly find management changes we will want to make. Meanwhile, we thank the Raintree Erdkinder and its teachers, led by Occupations guide Clay Kimmi, for their help on this important and time-consuming chore!
Global Montessori Academy, Kansas City area
Lower Elementary Children's House (1st-3rd grades), April
Not to be outdone, the Lower Elementary students learned about basic concepts of monitoring, and explored the information provided on the soil surface of a pasture. We learned that the 1st, 2nd and 3rd-grade child is detail-oriented! Their observations about the plants, insects and yes, the poop, were as advanced as any we've seen.
These students (and their guides and parents) have a lot of stamina: after a full morning of analyzing the soils, they hiked into the woods for a lunchtime picnic, then all the way back to the barns for a little playtime before boarding their bus. We can't wait to host these kids again.
Montessori Education and Holistic Management
You might notice that this year's students visited from Montessori schools. Montessori is a natural partner for Holistic Management, as its philosophy is grounded in the aim of educating the whole child.
We are fans of Montessori for its emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning, and constant interaction with the natural world. What better way for these kids to spend a day, but immersed in the natural world and regenerative agriculture!