St. Paul District attends the DaVinci Fest, highlights island building and mussels

By Melanie PetersonMay 10, 2024

The St. Paul District participated in Stillwater High School’s DaVinci Fest, an annual celebration of art and science in January. It was an opportunity for students to showcase their talents and knowledge at Science Fair, Art Fair, Upcycling Fair, Film Fest and Science Challenge events. This was the fourth time the St. Paul District participated in the event with over 1,600 participants attending.

Children learned the basic process of island building by interacting with a sand table and followed the process by drawing an outline of their island, placing sand within the outline, then placing gravel around the outside. Finally, soil, trees, and animals were added to the islands, said Haley Djock, Department of the Army fellow.

Community members learned about island building on the Mississippi River from drone footage of Pig’s Eye Lake. The footage showed the stages of the Pig’s Eye project as it progressed from pre- to post-


Mussel specimens were displayed for the community members to handle. Participants learned about the mussel life cycle and their importance for keeping the rivers clean. A brief history of how mussels became endangered and the Corps’ work to re-establish the Higgin’s Eye mussel populations was also discussed.

“I was surprised to see the level of engagement and interest in our work from visitors of all ages,” Djock said.

At least 20 people inquired about careers, additional outreach events, and job fairs with USACE. “One thing that really stood out to me was that I had approximately 15 students and 5 adults ask me whether or not we hire students for the summer,” said Jon Sobiech, deputy chief of regional planning and environment division north. “They were all very interested in working for the Corps.”