The Minnesota School Forest Program is a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota schools. The program provides a variety of benefits to increase outdoor education activities. Housed in the Division of Forestry the program works closely with Stewardship; Community and Urban Forestry; Projects Learning Tree, WILD, and WET; and many other programs.
Dr. C.V. Hobson, a former Bemidji State University geography professor and state legislator, is credited with creating the School Forest concept. He actively campaigned for the passage of the School Forest Law (MN Statutes, Section 89.41), which authorizes public education institutions to establish and maintain school forests. The law was passed in 1949. The first School Forest was designated in 1950 in Blackduck. The program encourages educators to teach outdoors, supports schools to extend the classroom into the outdoors, and advises on forest management. Often, School Forest sites are highly visible examples of healthy forests used for education and community recreation.
Over the years the program has changed periodically to meet the needs of Minnesota's schools. Currently there are more than 130 School Forests ranging in size from less than one acre to 300 acres of land, for a total of over 7,800 acres. School Forests across the state involve a blend of rural and urban sites, public and private schools, and reach preschool through university students. No matter the school, all School Forest sites are working toward the same goal of connecting students to the natural world while building student confidence, sense of community, skill level, and knowledge base.
Contact the School Forest Staff