School forests give students appreciation for natural resources

2015 student highlights

Students learn and apply real-world skills in school forests across Minnesota, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Students at Linwood School Forest in Wyoming, Minnesota.

Throughout the school year, students use these outdoor classrooms to learn and apply math, art, science, language arts and social studies while gaining an appreciation of natural resources.

There are 130 school forests at Minnesota schools throughout the state.

“Teachers routinely tell us that students are excited and engaged with school forest lessons,” said Karen Harrison, DNR school forest specialist. “The outdoors provide a unique learning environment where all students succeed.”

Here are a few 2015 school forest highlights:

  • Five Hawks School Forest in Prior Lake: Second graders hosted an outdoor family day to tap trees, watch the sap flow, make maple syrup and sample their own sweet creation.
  • Triton School Forest in Dodge Center: High school students led a two-day orienteering class for fifth graders in their school forest. Students learned useful social studies and survival skills like how to use a compass, measure distance by counting steps, and navigate through the woods.
  • Bagley School Forest: Sixth graders discovered math and science connections in forest ecology by measuring the diameter of trees, identifying the most common tree species in the forest and analyzing soil samples to determine which trees are best suited for their site.
  • Hill City School Forest: Tenth graders contributed to a 12-year fish population study by identifying and counting species of fish in a stream that flows through their school forest. They analyzed data about the stream’s overall health and compared it to previous years.
  • Linwood School Forest in Wyoming: Kindergarteners visited their school forest every week and used their five senses to make science observations, do math, draw nature images and write in journals.

Learn more about the Minnesota school forest program on the school forest Web page.