The Wisconsin School Forest program welcomes its newest members, the School District of Manawa and the Marion School District.
The new Manawa School Forest consists of 34 acres of wooded land behind the junior and senior high school. The Marion School District has registered 82 acres of forest land at Keller Park and 40 acres of forest land at Pigeon River Park in partnership with the Waupaca County Parks and Recreation Department.
Both school districts are currently working with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources forester Ben Baumgart to complete a forest stewardship plan for the properties and will also be working to complete individual district plans which outline educational uses of the properties for Manawa and Marion students. Registered school forests receive a variety of benefits. They are eligible to:
Receive free forest management assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Receive free seedlings from the state nursery program
Apply for grants from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board (WEEB)
Receive assistance from the statewide school forest education specialist
School forests are remarkable educational resources that are available to:
Help schools meet state-mandated education standards
Serve as a focus to integrate environmental education into the school’s curriculum ? Provide hands-on, experiential learning opportunities
Strengthen school-community relations
Demonstrate sustainable natural resource management
Produce income for education activities Wisconsin has a long and proud school forest tradition.
The community forest law, which allowed schools, organizations, and municipalities to own property for forest management purposes, was passed in 1927. The first school forests in the United States were registered the following year at Laona, Wabeno, and Crandon. The program has grown considerably since its inception to include more than 370 registered school forests owned by over 220 school districts and private schools and now 8 higher education institutions. The statewide school forest program is coordinated by the LEAF Program.
As a partnership between the WDNR – Division of Forestry and the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education in the College of Natural Resources at UW – Stevens Point, the statewide school forest program provides resources to help school forests achieve their full potential.
For more information on the statewide program, contact Gretchen Marshall, Wisconsin School Forest Education Specialist, at (715) 346-2633 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/leaf/Schoolforests/index.aspx .