By Sarah Gilbert
An enthusiastic group of educators
gathered at Trees For Tomorrow in Eagle River on a sunny week in August.
They were there for the kick-off of the Wisconsin Forest For Every Classroom
professional development event. This year-long experience will examine
how schools can use public forest lands to engage in place-based
education while blending it with service-learning.
Teams from Chilton School District, Appleton School District, Northwood School District, and Milwaukee Public Schools were joined by experts from the Wisconsin DPI, the Wisconsin DNR Division of Forestry, Trees for Tomorrow, the Earth Partnership for Schools Program, the USDA Forest Service, the Goodman-Armstrong Creek School District and the LEAF Program. After an overview of place-based education and service-learning, the group had a soul-searching conversation about the question, "What is a forest?" Those conversations sparked curiosity and the group looked more closely at service-learning. A panel discussion with local community members modeled how involving a community in a project strengthens the students' experience and involves the community with learning. By the end of the week teams left with ideas to take back to their classrooms. If you'd like to see more photos of our experience, go to the LEAF Facebook page!
We're looking forward to our next meeting in October. Teams will investigate our history with forest products and learn how we manage forests and make products from them. Each group will also share the results of an investigation of the resources available to them at a forest near their school.