One of the key components to a successful School Forest is a strong School Forest Committee. Having a committee helps ensure a long-term commitment, spreads out responsibilities, and gives needed support to the site coordinator. The committee should consist of individuals who can put forth the time and energy necessary to see things through.
School Forest Committee Duties:
- Write a mission statement
- Guide site development and oversee activities in the School Forest
- Encourage and empower teachers to use the School Forest
- Ensure appropriate funding is available
- Make decisions or recommendations regarding the School Forest
The average committee consists of 6-10 individuals from different backgrounds and interests. This provides an array of perspectives and possible solutions to tasks and challenges the committee may face.
School Forest Coordinator
The chair of the committee, called the School Forest coordinator, must have leadership and organizational skills, be willing to work toward the committee's goals for multiple years, and have the skill set necessary to serve as a leader working with people with different backgrounds and perspectives. The site coordinator is the main program contact and ensures school program responsibilities are met. Some schools have two co-coordinators to help distribute work and committee leadership.
It's a good idea to have a variety of people on your School Forest committee for greater collective knowledge and associations. Potential members include:
- School administrators
- School board members and other local elected officials
- School staff
- Local business owners
- Natural resource professionals
- Local civic and service organization members
- Members of your school's parent teacher association (PTA, PTO)
- Local naturalists or individuals with natural sciences backgrounds, such as Master Gardeners, Audubon Society Chapters, Woodland Advisors, or Master Naturalists
- Scouts, 4-H, or other youth group leaders
- School maintenance staff Invite new members by using your school or neighborhood newsletter, social media networks, or direct asks.
Before diving into the work of the committee, decide how the committee will operate. Consider the following questions.
- Will the committee use an informal or formal structure, using positions such as President, VP, Treasurer, Recording Secretary, etc.?
- When, where, and how often will the committee meet?
- Who will be the School Forest Site Coordinator?
- Will the site coordinator be the committee chair or work with a co-coordinator to manage the committee?
How you run a committee can affect how School Forest goals are met, how projects are organized and funded, and can help prevent burning out your members. Use the resources below to help run your School Forest committee.
- Master Plan
When meeting, the School Forest Committee should identify and complete short- and long-term goals. Develop a School Forest Master Plan that includes a one-year and a three-year plan. The following are tasks that might be addressed by the committee and put into the master plan.
- Write a mission statement
- Community use, including forest access and security
- Trail development and maintenance
- Site enhancements (signs, bathrooms, benches, buildings, etc.)
- Annual evaluation of the School Forest's educational usability
- Site maintenance
- Teacher workshops and curriculum development
- School Forest history (historical use of site and the listing of original flora and fauna)
- Creating a treasury to support the treasurer or financial officer
- Natural resources inventory
- Identifying and implement ways to encourage educators to use the School Forest
- Ensuring the School Forest meets the needs of the school(s) using it
- Public relations
- Safety (including lockdown procedures)