Class Description (in alphabetical order)

Animal Signs is a good choice for a wildlife lesson in any season. Deep Portage is located on 6,307 acres of the transitional forest in central Minnesota. Our biome has white-tail deer, bobcats, snowshoe hare, fisher, otter, beaver, bald eagles, goshawks, and many other fascinating animals. This class focuses on 8 basic clues that animals leave behind in their habitat. Students have the opportunity to investigate the out doors looking for various animal signs. Students learn tracking skills, animal identification, and animal life histories.

Astronomy. The Deep Portage astronomy lesson conforms to what the sky has to offer. We have 20 slides that show the students up close pictures of the planets in our solar and moon system. If the sky is clear we move out onto the pond or an open field where students can locate the moon, planets, and constellations in the night sky. If students have binoculars, this is a perfect opportunity for them to practice focusing. If the sky is clouded, we have an indoor lesson which allows us to be flexible. A popular indoor activity allows the students to create their own constellations and story.

Bog Hike. A visit to the Deep Portage bog is a hike not soon forgotten. Our tamarack bog contains pitcher plants, cranber-ries, bog laurel, leatherleaf, and sphagnum moss. This fascinating ecosystem introduces concepts such as photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, and plant adaptation to severe environmental conditions. Bogs are tied to many cultural stories and these details are interwoven with a naturalist lead hike over the glacial landscape. Our bog has a wooden boardwalk over the moss which enables us to explore the plants up close while keeping our shoes dry and the impact on the system to a minimum.

Canoeing. The land of 10,000 lakes is filled with opportunities to explore by canoe. Deep Portage students use Old Town Discovery and Alumacraft Featherlight canoes to practice their paddling skills. Each student is outfitted with a paddle and a lifejacket. We teach basic techniques and safety while floating on Bass Pond. If winds are low and students are ready, we can portage to Big Deep Lake and continue with the paddling adventure.

Charlie to Base is the follow-up activity to Landform 3. Students have learned how to use a compass, read a topographic map, and measure distance with paces. It is time to put it all together in a challenging land navigation exercise. Students are divided into groups and given 2 compasses, a map, and a two-way radio. The students begin at a landform point and navigate their way through the forest using all their acquired skills. This is a great teambuilding opportunity. Everyone shares in a great sense of accomplishment when they orienteer successfully.  (Must have Landform 3 first.)

Chemicals in the Sky Explores one of today's most important environmental concerns... water quality and specifically, acid rain. Students learn or review the water cycle, experiment with the pH scale, and learn about the biological affects that wter pollution can have on animal and plant populations. This class is a nice choice if you are coming in a transitional season where it may be too cool to dip into Bass Pond, but not cold enough for ice depths to be thick enough to walk on.

Climbing Is a class that introduces students to the basic technical skills of climbing as well as team skills such as respect, communication and trust. The class takes place in our 34-foot state-of-the-art climbing wall with the availability of 10 challenging routes to climb. The focus of this class is on self-awareness, teamwork, setting goals, and challenging themselves. This class is great for all ages.

Landform 3 is a compass orienteering class. The students learn how to use a compass, read a topographic map, and measure distance with paces. These are skills that they will have for a lifetime. If they hunt, hike, or enjoy wild areas, it is important that everyone know how to orient themselves with a map and compass. Our land navigation course was developed by Harley Kaiser, a retired Ranger, and is one of the best in the state.

Night Stalker is perhaps the single most popular course offered at Deep Portage. This predator/prey simulation teaches students about population dynamics and the ecology of northern owls and their prey.

Search for the Big 9. Deep Portage is located on a terminal glacial moraine in the transitional forest of Central Minnesota. Our forest is dominated by paper birch, big-tooth aspen, quaking aspen, white pine, red pine, and red oak. This lesson teaches students to use a dichotomous key while learning the finer points of tree identification. This hike is conducted in every season and highlights seasonal changes. Topics may include leaf color, bark/buds, new growth, and succession. This is our most popular forestry class. The skills used can be tailored to any age group.


T.E.A.M. Course. Together Everyone Accom-plishes More. Over the years the needs of students and teachers seem to change. One request that we often receive is that of working on teambuilding and cooperation skills with students. Our T.E.A.M. course is designed to challenge students in positive and productive ways. Every element requires the whole group working together. It's not always easy, but when progress is made, everyone feels good. Many teachers want to come back to Deep Portage and bring peers to experience the events. This is a great addition to a schedule in fall or spring.

Trials of Life Is a large-group activity that simulates the predator-prey interactions of an ecosystem. Each learning team represents a particular species within the ecosystem, which falls into a top predator or prey level. Each species needs to acquire the appropriate amount of food, water, and shelter that they need to survive by the end of the game. Their quest is complicated by the fact that the predators may hunt them. In this class, students learn the basic habitat requirements that animals need to survive within an ecosystem in a fun, hands-on way.

Water Canaries. This Project Wild Aquatics class is a favorite for many schools. Deep Portage has a variety of aquatic ecosystems to explore: bog, pond, lake, stream, and vernal pond. Students collect macroinvertebrates from a system and learn to identify several insects. Macro-invertebrate indices are used by the EPA and private environmental consultants to assess water quality. Macroinvertebrates are easy to identify, develop entirely in water, and generally don't roam. These features make them ideal environmental indicators.

Wolf Howling. It is hard to think of a more charismatic mammal than the timber wolf. Everyone is fascinated with these majestic predators. This class explores pack structure, behavior, and communication. Students participate in a pack simulation where they must rejoin with their leader (alpha) by howling. Wolf Howling is enjoyable for young and old alike.