All school forests must have a site coordinator who keeps things running.
This position is as fun or demanding as he or she allows it to be. Some school forest sites have co-coordinators to distribute some of the responsibilities.
New site coordinators should contact the School Forest program to provide the office with the correct contact information so important news, information, and materials can be sent your way.
Site Coordinator's main responsibilities
The site coordinator must complete and send to the DNR an Annual Report that describes activities that took place in the school forest.
Annual Reports are due by June 30 every year.
School Forest Committee
The site coordinator must establish and chair a School Forest Committee to manage and use your site according to your mission statement. Successful committees can consist of teachers, administrators, parents, neighbors, and other community partners. The site coordinator makes sure that the committee meets at least once each year and may delegate responsibilities and tasks to members. Committees may choose to manage tasks such as:
- Working with a DNR forester to obtain a woodland stewardship plan for your site, plan an Arbor Month planting event, conduct a harvest, remove invasive species, etc.
- Organizing events to maintain trails, clean trash and debris, etc.
- Posting interpretive or directional signs, “no hunting” signs, “pick up after your dog” signs, etc.
- Requesting teacher professional development to increase school forest use.
- Managing a school forest webpage or Facebook group, writing articles to local news media.
- Applying for grants to pay for supplies such as snowshoes or site features such as benches and shelters.
- Recruit other committee members to prevent burn-out and maintain long-term continuity when members move on.
As the main contact between the DNR and the school, the site coordinator is responsible for communicating:
- To the DNR about how the school is using their school forest
- Examples: what teachers and students are doing, how the community is using the site, harvesting/planting/management activities, etc.
- To school staff and partners resources that promote successful outdoor experiences.
- Example: forwarding the monthly newsletter sent by the School Forest Program that shares lessons, grant information, and professional development opportunities.
If your school has trouble meeting the program responsibilities to maintain certification with the Minnesota DNR, contact the School Forest program.