The Whitnall nature pod, a 17-acre parcel of land adjacent to 116th Street in Greenfield, has been accepted into the Wisconsin School Forest program.
Now known as the Whitnall School Forest, the land will be used as an outdoor classroom, where environmental, health and physical education opportunities will be incorporated into the existing curriculum across disciplines and grade levels.
The school forest designation is the result of hard work and research by Whitnall High School science teacher Laura Cerletty, who worked with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources forester Michael Sieger, a Whitnall graduate, on completing a forest stewardship plan for the property.
Registered school forests receive a variety of benefits. They are eligible to:
- Receive free forest management assistance from the Wisconsin DNR
- Receive free seedlings from the state nursery program
- Receive assistance from the statewide school forest education specialist
- Apply for grants from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board
The DNA-allocated grants — $5,000 the first year and up to $20,000 all subsequent years — can be used for educational development opportunities, site enhancements and equipment.
Wisconsin has a long and proud school forest tradition. The community forest law, which allowed schools, organizations and municipalities to own property for forest management purposes, was passed in 1927. The first school forests in the United States were registered the following year in Laona, Wabeno and Crandon, Wisconsin. The program has grown considerably since its inception to include more than 400 registered school forests owned by more than 230 school districts and private schools and eight higher education institutions.
Read the NOW Newspapers story on the designation here.