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Volunteers upgrade Four Corners trail

Jared Noska sets screws into a board while working on a shelter along the nature trail at Four Corners Elementary School on Wednesday morning. Jed Carlson / 1 / 2
Apprentice carpenters, from left, Cris Moen, Brian Rotgers, Jared Noska and Doau Vang work on the shelter on the nature trail at Four Corners Elementary on Wednesday morning. Jed Carlson / 2 / 2

At Four Corners Elementary School, it takes a village to upgrade a trail.

Volunteers have been coming out of the woodwork to do woodwork along school's Burstrom Trail.

A new pavilion is currently under construction. The 25-foot by 50-foot shelter will be used as an outdoor classroom for students throughout the year, and a site to boil maple sap into syrup in the spring.

"We're embedding environmental education into the curriculum," said outgoing Principal Jack Jarnis.

Teachers and students are already engaged and use the trail often, he said, but the upgrades may give them more opportunities for outdoor study.

The weather has been so rainy this year that there was concern no work would get done on the shelter, according to Ellen Chicka, parent involvement coordinator for the school. When things dried out earlier this month, school parent Pete James and a friend were able to set the posts for the building.

Last week, apprentice carpenters from the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, Union Local 361, set the trusses for the structure.

"They've been donating their time and expertise to put the roof on," said Jarnis, who has learned more about construction during the process than he expected. "I think they did a great job."

"All the work is being done by volunteers, which says so much about our amazing community," Chicka said.

The work's not done yet. The school is seeking volunteers to put on the pavilion's tin roof in August.

"Somebody who knows how to put a roof on a pole barn," Jarnis said.

For more information or to volunteer, email

The trail upgrade was funded by a range of sources, including $12,000 from logging operations that took place around the school, $10,000 from the Superior school district, a grant from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board and an East Central Energy grant of $1,750 for a new mower and dumpster to be used for trail management.

In addition to the new pavilion, the Burstrom Trail is slated to receive new signage in the fall and ongoing work to raise the trail itself up above the surrounding wetlands.

"It's a slow process," Jarnis said. "We bring in loads of stone and spread it around."

He's been pleased with the outpouring of community support, and volunteers, for the project.

"Everyone's been learning, everyone's been learning, everyone's been contributing," he said.