School Forest news
Highlights About Our School Forests
Earlier this year seventh graders from Bemidji Middle School assessed the health of their School Forest by conducting an earthworm investigation. After learning about earthworms and the effect that these non-native, invasive species have on MN Mark Studer, a science teacher, sent students out to the forest with their tools. After setting up study plots, students poured in a liquid mustard solution and waited for worms to surface. Out of 30 total plots, only 28 worms were counted. While it was disappointing for students not to see worms wiggle to the surface, they knew that minimal worms meant a healthier forest ecosystem.
Garlough Environmental Magnet School designated 28 acres of land as the Garlough School Forest. It consists of school-owned land and part of Garlough Park which is owned by the city of West St. Paul. The wooded property already contains established fort-building areas, bird watching stations, a tree house, tightrope system, and seating for instructional moments. The wooded areas owned by the city contain additional paved and dirt trails. The school will work with the city and the School Forest Program to get the best educational use out of their new School Forest.
The Marlene Meyers School Forest will be an outdoor classroom for two schools, the Minnesota Transitions Charter School Elementary School and the Turnquist Child Enrichment Center. At 0.275 acres, this is Minnesota's smallest School Forest, and every square inch is being used! The two schools reside in a building leased by an organization called A Chance to Grow. ACTG and its schools specialize in using cutting-edge, brain-centered programs to teach children with visual, auditory, neurologic, and other physical challenges. This School Forest is a rare gem located in a densely populated, high-visibility neighborhood in northeast Minneapolis.
Karner Blue Environmental Center, a new school opening this fall in Circle Pines, designated five acres of woodlands on their property as the Karner Blue School Forest. The school is designed for K-8 children with autism, emotional and behavioral issues, and cognitive disabilities. The forest will advance the school's philosophy of connecting children to nature. Nature- and place-based learning will be a core educational component. The building is designed with four distinct outdoor classroom connections in mind: River, Lake, Forest, and Prairie. Each room and office will be named after plants and animals found in their corresponding communities. Future School Forest plans include better walking trails, signs identifying plants and grasses and use of the adjacent Blaine Preserve Scientific and Natural Area.