What a great idea
A creative way to study the history of natural resources is to look deep into the growth rings on a tree. The students were given some basic background knowledge about historical dates and then they were given the chance to read a chapter from A Sand County Almanac called “The Good Oak.”I can't see how this wouldn't be a good time, and a good education. Students learned that conservation doesn't conflict with hunting, farming or tree harvesting. They got an exposure to history, personal and local, and integrated it with the history of the natural world.
The author, Aldo Leopold, takes the reader from the day a tree died back in time as the saw cuts each ring of the tree. As each year is sawn, Aldo describes significant events of Wisconsin history. The students then created their own “tree cookie.”
Maybe it's a little hippieish, but I think there's a lot to be said for holism, or transcendentalism, or whatever. The tree the kids cut was around as all the events in their families' histories occurred, and may have participated in some of them. Maybe there are cinders in it from that big fire. Or those thin rings are from the dust bowl years, when their grandparents nearly sold the farm. Holism makes you respect everything and everyone, because you are connected, somehow, fundamentally.