Training and events

DNR forester and landowner walking in landowner's woodlands

Teaching in Your School Forest PD

Schools enrolled in the School Forest Program can get a free “Teaching in Your School Forest” professional development (PD) at YOUR school.

Learn how to use your school forest as an outdoor classroom where you can teach various standards-based lessons.

What teachers are saying

  • “This PD got everyone at my school on the same page. Now everyone knows that we have a school forest, how to access it, and the outdoor teaching tools our school already has.”
  • “I loved how DNR staff demonstrated grade-appropriate lessons in our own school forest!”
  • “I am still a little nervous about taking kids outdoors, but I’m inspired by seeing how it’s done. Love the outdoor classroom management skills!”
  • “The PLT activity guides are really easy to use.”
  • “I can’t wait to swap out some of my lessons for these outdoor lessons from the School Forest Activity Board. The kids will love it!”
  • “I am definitely more confident teaching outdoors now.”

To set up a PD tailored to your site and needs, contact the School Forest Program coordinator. 

Workshop length and timing

Workshop length can range from 2 to 8 hours, spread out over one or more days. Some schools have us out for 2-4 hours in fall, then again in the winter, and maybe again in the spring. Teachers get 1 CEU per hour of instruction.

What happens at a workshop

Workshop content depends on what you need and how much time you have. Workshop goals depend on the teachers' goals. A common goal is to increase teacher comfort teaching outdoors and School Forest use. Often this means better integration of the School Forest into existing curriculum.

Select from a variety of popular components such as:

  • Demonstrating specific, grade-appropriate, standards-based lessons in your own school forest. While lessons can come from a variety of sources, most are from the School Forest Activity Board and Project Learning Tree (books included!).
  • Guided walk through the woods to become familiar with your space. Identifying plants, animals, and good places for outdoor instruction.
  • Modeling “outdoor classroom management skills.”
  • Sharing tools your school may already have for outdoor instruction such as field desks, activity kits, wagons, etc. And if your school lacks tools, the School Forest Program may be able to help.
  • Time to work on integrating outdoor lessons into your curriculum.
  • Time to learn what other teachers are doing or want to do in their forest—you might be surprised!

What you get

  • CEUs
  • Practice lessons being done in your own school forest
  • Outdoor classroom management skills
  • Project Learning Tree activity guides
  • DNR resources appropriate for your training such as activity kits, posters, equipment, etc.

Annual School Forest Conference, Summit, or Regional Trainings

Once each year, the School Forest Program hosts a 2-day conference, 1-day summit, or a short series of 1-day regional trainings. These events are open to all School Forest site coordinators and teachers and are a great way to share, inspire, and celebrate your school forest.

Events are free and provide CEUs. Substitute stipends often available.

Popular annual event components

  • Sessions on current topics such as climate change, indigenous lessons, setting up a tree planting day, birding, wild edibles, outdoor math
  • The ever-popular Activity Share where teachers bring and demonstrate their favorite lessons they do in their school forest
  • Networking
  • Free resources for schools such as tree cookies,
  • Optional hikes

Other workshops for educators

DNR Educator Trainings Topics range from trees, water, and wildlife. Trainings are a great way to invigorate your teaching skills and earn CEUs.

Mississippi River Delta Institute “Waters to the Sea” free teacher workshop. Presented by Hamline University’s Center for Global and Environmental Education. Free. Usually in late June and July. Registration open in Feb.

Minnesota Mineral Education Workshop This very low-cost annual workshop takes place in the summer and includes short courses, field trips, and meals. The MMEW instructors take you on-site to explore geology, minerals, and soils, along with sharing lessons to teach to your students.

Climate Generation Summer Teacher Institute. Climate Generation, a Minnesota-based organization dedicated to educating citizens about climate change, offers low-cost summer institutes with free curriculum, scholarships, and optional graduate credit.

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