Gov. Dayton highlights school forest program
Gov. Mark Dayton included the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) school forest program as one of 11 big accomplishments that helped students and teachers achieve the education and skills needed to succeed in a global economy.
The program's goal is to get kids outside and is designed to help schools establish and maintain school forests for education.
"The key is empowering teachers to provide outdoor experiences that are far more engaging and based in real-world applications," said Amy Kay Kerber, the DNR school forest manager. "Prior Lake-Savage, Rockford, Proctor, Bemidji and many other school districts have all reported academic success as a result of their school forest programs."
There are 120 Minnesota schools that have designated a school forest and use them to teach a variety of lessons: poetry, drawing and art, math, geology and soil studies, geocaching, digital photography, water quality studies, outdoor measurements, wildlife and habitat studies and American Indian and Minnesota history.
Activities are not designed to be add-ons. Instead, school forest staff helps teachers replace indoor lessons with more appropriate outdoor lessons in existing school curricula.
More than 2,000 teachers and 40,000 students have participated in school forest classrooms in which they learn math, science, social studies and other subjects in the outdoors.
Many school forests are located on school grounds or nearby, which reduces time and money needed to provide field learning opportunities. School forests can include wetlands, fields, lakes or forests. DNR staff members provide technical advice on how to manage the sites and meet teaching goals.
The school forest program was awarded a grant to expand the program and school forest sites through the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The grant ends June 30, 2013.
Go online to find more information about the DNR's school forest program.