McFarland School District School Forest

 

'Step outside and discover your local marsh, woods and prairies. See what nature has to offer!'

School Forest fox picture

The McFarland School Forest, adjacent to Indian Mound Middle School, is a diverse area of hardwood forest bordering marsh and wetlands. There are several tree species growing in the forest, including walnut, hickory, oak, silver maple and cherry. The forest is also home to animals and birds, including squirrels, deer, opossum, woodpeckers, owls, hawks and foxes. From Exchange Street, the Jaeger hiking trail winds through the school forest and continues on to Indian Mound Park, which has an oak savannah restoration area as well as a group of Native American mounds known as the Lewis Mound group. While the school forest has always been a part of the school property, its potential has only recently been explored for developing and using it as an "outdoor classroom" to enhance learning experiences in science and environmental studies. It was officially designated as a school forest in December 2006.  Indian Mound Park was added to the school forest through an agreement with the Village of McFarland in June 2007.  Both areas combined total sixteen acres, with the opportunity to see and study several ecosystems in a small area.

School Forest group picture

Volunteers from the school and the community have been working since 2006 to clear the area of non-native invasive shrubs, trees, and plants from the forest. Honeysuckle shrubs and garlic mustard, originally from Europe, take over and crowd out native plants and wildflowers and greatly interfere with trees' ability to reproduce and grow. Clearing of these species is the first step in restoring the area, which will allow many native plants to regenerate.  High School biology classes and Indian Mound Middle School students participate in pulling garlic mustard from the school forest each spring. The school district was awarded a 2007 grant from the Natural Resources Foundation's C.D. Besadny Conservation Grant Program which provided tools and safety equipment for work crews. Participating in volunteer work days is a great opportunity to learn about ecology and forest management.

School Forest flower picture

As part of the certification through the school forestry program at UW-Stevens Point, the school district has developed both a Forest Management Plan (with assistance from the DNR) and a School Forest Education Plan that will incorporate hands-on learning and environmental education into the existing curriculum. Many studies have shown that learning experiences that include observation in natural settings boost student's interest and retention of knowledge, as well as helping them to develop a sense of caring for the environment.

 

To find out more about work days and other activities, or any other questions you may have about our school forest, please contact:

Cyndy White
Outdoor Education
Email: Cyndy White
608-513-4246

  • McFarland School District
  • 5101 Farwell St., McFarland, WI 53558
  • Phone: 608 838-4500 | Fax: 608 838-3074
  • Email