The Wisconsin School Forest program welcomes two new forest parcels recently registered to the Iola-Scandinavia School District.
One new parcel includes 26 acres of land with a prairie and small forest behind the school buildings. The other parcel is 40 acres of land at Jorgen’s Park.
These two properties, in addition to the currently registered Iola Scandinavia School Forest, gives students over 70 acres of forest land to use as an outdoor classroom. Environmental education opportunities at the school forest have already been incorporated into the existing curriculum across disciplines and grade levels. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources forester Ben Baumgart is working with the school district to complete a forest stewardship plan for the properties.
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 380 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-ap/leaf/Pages/School-Forests.aspx.