Q. What is a School Forest?
A. A School Forest is an outdoor classroom where students learn a variety of subjects including math, science, language arts, social studies and physical education. The School Forest program was created in 1949 by a legislative statute that allows Minnesota schools to establish and maintain outdoor classrooms.
Currently, there are 130 School Forest sites with a blend of urban and rural locations, public and private schools, and preschool, elementary and high school students. They range in size from a quarter acre to more than 300 acres. Each is unique, ranging from pine plantations to prairies to small manicured wood lots. School Forest sites often are highly visible examples of healthy forests used for education and outdoor recreation by both schools and local communities. This partnership between Minnesota schools and the Department of Natural Resources helps connect more than 40,000 students to the natural world through hands-on, real-world lessons.
In northwest Minnesota, there are two School Forests in Roseau County, one in Pennington County, one in Red Lake County, two in Clearwater County, one in Lake of the Woods County and six in Beltrami County.
You can learn more on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/schoolforest.
— Karen Harrison
Harrison is School Forest specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.