SMA Students Spend Spring Break at Loretto Motherhouse
By Christine Boss
St. Mary’s Academy selected several girls to participate in a trip from Denver to the Loretto Motherhouse over spring break. It was the first time that the AP (Advanced Placement) environmental science students had an opportunity to travel to the Motherhouse.
The trip’s intent was for us to learn more about the principle of sustainability and observe how members of the Loretto Community are putting it into practice. We spent much of our time in nature, experienced our connectedness with the Earth and reflected on what we learned at the end of each day. While at the Motherhouse we took a tour of the Archives, listened to a presentation on the Monarch Butterfly Program, explored Cedars of Peace and the Cordwood Cabin, provided some service work and met with Cody Rakes for a tour of the farm. Mia Gabriele, Greta Heitman, Grace Cox, Sophia Taylor, Zara Antal and Hannah Chung participated on this trip. Their reflections on these experiences follow.
SMA students offer their reflections
At the end of our first day at the Motherhouse, we attended a talk to broaden our knowledge of butterflies. We learned about the importance of the monarch on our ecosystem. Monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. It could be called a “butterfly weigh station” when there is an intentionally managed garden that provides food and habitat. One highlight from the presentation, was hearing the news that the Motherhouse would be receiving a large delivery of milkweed plants to add to their collection of butterfly plants to attract more monarch butterflies. This was one of our favorite activities because we learned about the importance of butterflies.
During our tour of Cedars of Peace, Susan Classen showed us the seven cabins that are available for rent in a serene environment. She also gave us a tour of the cabin in which she and JoAnn Gates currently live. Susan, along with a local couple and numerous volunteers, built the cordwood cabin. While she had previous experience with woodworking, she had never before built a house. Along with having the house tour, we saw the Community beehives in action, doing their work to ensure that we all eat!
Cody, who manages the farm, took us on a tour of the farm and taught us about sustainable farming and cattle raising. We took a hayride and saw the various cattle pastures and crops that Cody planted. He uses no-till and intercropping practices. We learned that the different crops Cody plants keep the soil healthy. He uses sustainable practices to raise cows.
To contribute to the Motherhouse Community, we worked on a couple of small service projects with Susan and Jessie Rathburn. Some of us spread mulch around the bases of the trees in front of the Academy Building while others worked with Jessie to move plants/bushes from the lake shore. We dug up the plants to relocate them, and we got all covered in mud.
It was hard work. We learned that with hard work and dedication, you can create anything. The service project was fun to do, and it was great to know we were helping the sisters out and making an immediate difference in the Community. This opportunity allowed us to spend time outside in a beautiful and peaceful place.
This trip was worthwhile for the St. Mary’s Academy girls and me. It was an unforgettable, educational and experiential trip. I hope to bring another group of AP environmental science girls next year.