A School Forest is an outdoor classroom where students learn a variety of subjects and address academic standards. It can become a place that not only enhances an appreciation of natural resources but heightens community pride and involvement. A functioning School Forest has positive effects on students, teachers, parents, and the community.
For students, School Forests can:
- Make lessons more relevant by using meaningful, real-world situations
- Reach students through hands-on learning
- Increase knowledge gain and student achievement
- Provide mentoring opportunities for older students
- Encourage physical activity and improve student health
- Allow students with disabilities frequent, safe contact with the natural world
- Develop young people's innate interest in the natural world
- Foster a sense of ownership and community connection
- Increase creativity, self-esteem, and motivation
- Expose students to local natural resource career possibilities
- School and teachers
For schools and teachers, School Forests can:
- Meet academic standards
- Increase teacher motivation and enthusiasm
- Allow teachers to try new teaching methods in an outdoor setting
- Allow teachers to interact with students on a different level
- "Green" your school by using sustainable and efficient ways of maintaining school property
- Decrease vandalism and increase school pride
- Receive from the DNR benefits such as: School Forest staff assistance, support mailings, access to the Activity Board, educational materials, newsletters, grant opportunities, Teaching in Your School Forest workshops, admission to the annual conference/summit/regional training, tree cookies, field desks, access to DNR foresters, and woodland stewardship plans.
- Parents, families and communities
For parents, families, and communities, School Forests can:
- Strengthen parent-teacher relationships while working toward a common goal
- Provide increased recreation and exploration opportunities
- Create a more environmentally literate population who will make sound, long-term community decisions
- Create a sense of ownership among parents, families, students, and community members
- Engender cooperation between stakeholders
- Involve community members as guest presenters and volunteers, and allow them to serve as positive adult role models.
- Increase community safety. Studies show that crime decreases as a community spends more time outside in a positive environment.