he Farnsworth Middle School Pine Bush Project

If you weren’t at the June 15 dinner, you missed hearing from six of Dr. Alan Fiero’s outstanding Farnsworth Middle School students about their work in the Pine Bush. Their names are: Christine Myers, Katie Lamar, Matthew Krieg, Salil Chaudhry, Meghan Dillon and Miranda Seguin. The authors of the article below are Matthew Krieg, Christine Myers and Meghan Dillon.

On June 15, 2011 Salil, Christine, Meghan, Miranda, Katie, and I all went to the Save the Pine Bush dinner. I am Matthew Krieg. Salil and I talked about Karner Blue Butterfly rearing. We talked about how the whole program began 3 years ago.

Our school has an amazing science teacher, Dr. Fiero. He had just started a program where the students at Farnsworth would get to take care of Karner Blue butterflies, an endangered species. For this program, the school got a couple of female Karner Blue butterflies that would lay eggs. The first year we had 2 females. We got a total of 50 eggs. The students got to take care of the butterflies as caterpillars up until they reached the pupa stage. Then they were released into the wild before they came out. The students had to clean the little larva cups every day and give the caterpillars new blue lupine plants, the Karner Blue’s only food. This program continued this way for 2 years.

Starting last year we started to get the caterpillars once they had hatched. We found this method much more successful. We could not do this program this year because the butterflies hatched too late, even though we were going to raise 300 butterflies. Every year we do help, even if we are the only school in the world that raises Karner Blue butterflies. — by Matthew Krieg


The six of us who spoke at the dinner stayed after school several times to put our talks together. We presented about our field trips to the Pine Bush to girdle aspen trees in the spring and to collect bush leaf clover back in the fall. During these two trips, students were able to harvest approximately 35% of all the bush leaf clover and kill hundreds of aspen trees.

Another event that was talked about was the lupine festival. Students volunteered to sell lupine seeds and other native wildflowers to the community hoping to insure a greater food supply for the Karner Blue butterflies.

Personally as a student enrolled at Farnsworth, this semester was phenomenal. Each and every student grew as a learner, and was introduced to possibilities that we had never even considered becoming a reality. We realized that the world around us is so much more than what we have taken it for, all thanks to Dr. Fiero. Before his class this year, I knew the Pine Bush as a place to go ride bikes or go hiking. Now, as the year wraps itself up, I see it as one of the most unique historical landmarks in New York State. I think that it should be saved, and if we all come together as a community, then it truly can be. — by Christine Myers


Dr. Fiero got my team from Farnsworth Middle School to help save the Pine Bush. This year I took a trip to girdle aspen trees in the Pine Bush. Even though the aspen tree is a native plant to the Pine Bush, it is becoming a major problem. With this tree taking up a lot of space, it is hard for plants such as lupine, pitch pine and other plants to grow at the Pine Bush. Lupine is important here because it is a main food source for the Karner Blue butterflies.

The aspen tree has a very thick bark and it is grayish black in color. The aspen tree also has a different looking leaf than the pitch pine does. The leaf of the aspen tree is oval shaped and the sides are pointed and look like the blade of a saw. My team and I went to the Pine Bush to help girdle these trees. To kill the aspen tree, we had to use a bark spud to cut into the bark and then cut a ring of bark off to kill it. Doing this stops water and other things the tree needs to grow from going to the top and it eventually dies out. As a team at the Pine Bush, we girdled 960 trees all together.

If an aspen tree is cut down, it will grow back, whereas when you girdle the tree, you are stopping anything the tree needs to live from moving up the tree, so this will kill the tree and keep it from growing back over and over again. It is the only way to get rid of these trees. As you can see, we need to get rid of the aspen trees or the other plants will be at risk of going extinct. So we need to help out and get rid of the aspen trees. So help out the Pine Bush before it is too late. We need your help! — Meghan Dillon

Published in July/August Save the Pine Bush Newsletter