Visitors to Huron Pines’ two nature preserves now have a quiet place to sit, reflect and observe their surroundings thanks to the craftsmanship of students at Alcona High School.
Students in the Geometry in Construction shop class built 11 wooden benches which now reside at Hubbard Lake Nature Preserve in Alcona County and Emily Min Hunt Preserve in Presque Isle County. Known as Leopold benches, they are the design of renowned conservationist and author Aldo Leopold, who used benches of this style at his home prairie in central Wisconsin where he wrote A Sand County Almanac.
“The idea is that they are made of natural materials and blend into their landscape, rather than jump out or catch your eye,” said Heather Huffstutler, Land Protection Director for Huron Pines. “They offer a comfortable spot for respite and reflection and are gentle on the land.”
Built of dimensional lumber with a natural finish, the benches feature a gently sloped back rest, a deep seat and sturdy legs and can seat two people comfortably. The thoughtful workmanship of the students can be seen in each sanded edge and snugly fitted joint and the benches will serve visitors to the preserves for many years.
Tim Campbell co-teaches the shop class with math instructor Abbie Krentz and said the benches were an opportunity for students to practice math concepts in a hands-on project.
“We apply those lessons — angles, height, geometry — then use them in a physical sense,” Campbell said. “We’re using math in a way they can apply and see it. It’s a great opportunity for the kids to bring both worlds together.”
Hubbard Lake Nature Preserve is located at 720 Holiday Inn Road on Churchill Point. The 80-acre wooded property includes 1.5 miles of trails for hiking, snowshoeing and wildlife viewing. Emily Min Hunt Preserve is 20 minutes north of Alpena on Shubert Highway near Long Lake. There are 2 miles of down-and-back trails through 428 acres of mixed hardwoods, limestone glades and apple orchards.