Winneconne, WI September, 2013 – The Norbert Rich School Forest as part of the Winneconne Community School District, has big plans for the development of educational programs this fall. This newly acquired 43.5 acre farm and forest will host numerous class sessions for students grades K-12 and provide a community oriented center for environmental leadership.
School forest education has a rich tradition in Wisconsin dating back to the 1920’s when key leaders in forestry conservation created various educational youth projects. These early traditions are still alive and growing today with over 450 school and community forests here in Wisconsin. School forest activities and programs complement instruction in environmental, sustainability and agricultural education by giving students practical experience in the application of skills and knowledge gained in the classroom.
The students who have been involved in the activities of the school forest thus far have been those taking courses as part of the Agricultural Science program at Winneconne High School. As elective credits, students may sign up for classes in the area of natural resources, horticulture or animal sciences. Students in these classes will frequently take trips to the school forest to learn about wildlife ecology, environmental ethics, leadership and the importance of managing the forest to be sustainable and have continuous yields. The vision for the future is that all subject areas and grade levels will have involvement at the forest.
Agriculture instructors at Winneconne High School, James Melby, and new hire, Crystal McGrath, are very excited to utilize this outdoor classroom opportunity. McGrath, will be the primary manager of the school forest property with the convening of an advisory committee to help make the best decisions for the education of the students and health of the forest. “There is so much diversity on this wonderful piece of forested land, making the possibilities for sustainable forestry education endless,” McGrath said. The district is in the process of completing the activities involved in order to make this forested land a registered school forest in the state of Wisconsin.
Benefits to having the Norbert Rich School Forest registered would include free trees for reforestation, assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources foresters in creating forest management plans as well as assistance from the Wisconsin School Forest Coordinator and the option to apply for school forest grant monies from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board (WEEB).
For more information regarding the Norbert Rich School Forest or Agriculture Education at Winneconne High School, please contact the School Forester, Crystal McGrath or James Melby, Agriculture Instructor at 920-582-5810.