Council creates natural learning areaThe nation’s third largest municipal forest may seem like a natural learning environment for Superior kids.
By: Shelley Nelson, The Daily Telegram
The nation’s third largest municipal forest may seem like a natural learning environment for Superior kids.
Yet only 11 percent of Superior teachers who responded to a survey conducted in late August and early September reported using the Superior Municipal Forest for educational purposes.
The city’s Environmental Services and Parks and Recreation divisions are planning to change that. They have formulated a plan to create an outdoor classroom and develop a curriculum Superior teachers can use to take advantage of the forest, on the western edge of the city. City councilors on Tuesday advanced the project.
The idea got its start with grants garnered by the Environmental Services Division, said Mary Morgan, Parks and Recreation administrator.
Grants available through the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and Department of Natural Resources will help pay for amenities and lessons.
As part of the project, a teaching area will be created where trails converge near the Millennium Trail. Three tiers of benches will be installed to seat about 60 people. A six-foot-wide path featuring water-pervious pavers will allow access from the Millennium Trail for people with disabilities. At least one additional portable restroom at the Wyoming Avenue trailhead will be added.
The site for the classroom was selected to have the least impact on the forest and wetlands in the forest, Morgan said.
Construction of the seating and path are slated for spring and summer and could be in place by fall.
“Teachers may use the forest at any time,” Morgan said. “It might be more comfortable for them to have this outdoor classroom in place.”
The plan includes developing grade-specific lessons using the Wisconsin K-8 Forestry Field Lesson Guide by LEAF (Learning, Experience and Activities in Forestry).
Once developed, the lessons and necessary materials will be packaged in a backpack teachers can get from the Environmental Services Division.
A workshop for teachers will provide hands-on experience with the forest-related lessons before they have to instruct them.
As a bonus, the first 10 classes to participate in the outdoor classroom in 2007-08 will receive $100 to offset the cost of transportation. The transportation stipend expires June 30.
Shelley Nelson can be reached at (715) 395-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.