Watching the Forest at Woodland School

When an oak wilt infestation led to clear cutting acres of trees on the forested campus of the Woodland School, teachers Lesley Goodrick-Scanlon and Ned Milne recognized the proverbial teachable moment. Teachers and students could learn how to steward forests together.

To help design a project that would engage the whole school, the teachers turned to the Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative (GTSI) for guidance and assistance. GTSI provided  teacher support, planning assistance, some funding and helped to engage appropriate experts.  GTSI Director, Chelsea Nester helped to organize a school-wide professional development program focusing on the new 20-year forest management plan developed for the Woodland School’s 250 acre campus.

As briefly described in this video, GTSI and Woodland School worked together to engage students in hands-on learning by creating an arboretum, selecting climate-resilient tree species to plant and participating in a long-term monitoring plan. A key component of the forest monitoring plan is participating the Eyes on the Forest Project developed by the Department of Entomology at Michigan State University. Making the connection, GTSI asked MSU Extension Educator Julie Crick to help students and teachers identify trees on campus that would act as sentinels for any invading forest insect or disease pests. Over the long term, Woodland School students will continue to monitor their sentinel trees for signs of infestation by invading tree pests, contributing this information to a statewide effort to identify and stop invasive forests pests. This will also help to monitor the effectiveness of their forester’s work to eradicate Oak Wilt Disease on their campus and catch it early if it returns.

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