Posted by: Phil DeLong | August 28, 2014

Campus Exploration

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It’s been a very busy seven days since our 62 CS9 students arrived last Friday, and we’ve been having quite a bit of fun. Before beginning classes on Monday, students spent the weekend getting oriented to Conserve School and the many things a student needs to know to live, play, work, and study here. 

To help students become more familiar with their surroundings, staff created a scavenger hunt for the students, which took them to important places around campus. Students traveled in six groups of 10 or 11 students, using clues (and maps) to navigate from one point to another. At each stop, students learned the significance of that place, and sometimes met important people (or pets). To document their journeys, each group took photos of what (or who) they encountered along the way. This activity, like so much of the Conserve School experience, created a learning experience that was fun to participate in. There have been many more of those fun learning experiences this week, so stay tuned for updates.

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | August 26, 2014

Welcome Conserve School Semester 9

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On Friday, August 22nd, Conserve School welcomed 62 new students as they began their 17 week stay. These adventurous juniors and sophomores have elected to spend one semester of their high school career living and learning in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. While at Conserve School the students will take courses that use environmental stewardship and outdoor activities as integrating concepts as well as partake in a variety of adventures including solo camping, canoeing, hiking, biking and a week-long exploration trip. While at Conserve they will learn how attending a semester school can make a world of difference.

Photo by Jeff Rennicke

Photo by Jeff Rennicke

The students came to Conserve School from 45 schools spread across 15 states, the District of Columbia and Germany. Students came from public schools (69%), private school (16%) and homeschool (15%). Nine of the students were following in the footsteps of siblings who had previously attended Conserve School.

Upon arriving students and their families visited orientation stations where they did a number of things including confirming their academic schedules, having their pictures taken, checking in at the health center, and moving into their rooms. By 5 o’clock the families had left and the process of getting to know each other began in earnest. After dinner, students and staff gathered to review Conserve School’s core values and discuss what it means to live as a group in community. The evening was completed with a moving candlelight ceremony at a point on campus we call five corners.

Over the past few days I have enjoyed meeting these talented young adults and I look forward to getting to know them better throughout the coming semester. I hope you enjoy these photos from move-in day.


~Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all accepted students receive significant scholarship support.

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | July 28, 2014

Conserve School Receives Green Ribbon Award

Monday, July 28, 2014

Conserve School wins Green Ribbon Award

The U.S. Department of Education honored Conserve School on July 22, as a Green Ribbon School in recognition for its leadership in reducing environmental impact and cost, improving health and wellness, and providing effective environmental education.

Speaking of the award Andrea Suarez, director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools said, “It’s a mechanism for recognizing high-performing schools and districts – and using their example to spread best practices to other schools and districts.”

Conserve School was among 48 schools and nine school districts nationwide that were honored at the awards ceremony in Washington. Wisconsin was joined by Park Elementary, Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District; Tomorrow River Community Charter School, Tomorrow River School District; Hurley K-12 School, Hurley School District; and the Greendale School District was a District Sustainability awardee.

“The idea for this Green Ribbon experience actually came from partners challenging us to figure out what we can do to shine a better spotlight,” said Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education. He praised schools for saving millions of dollars while making kids healthier and improving student achievement.

“We are honored to receive this recognition,” said Stefan Anderson, Head of Conserve School. “It is my hope that with the support of their Conserve School experience our alumni will go back to their sending schools and encourage them to increase their efforts toward reducing their environmental impact and providing effective environmental education.”

A report with highlights on the 57 honorees along with more information on the federal recognition award can be found at


Video information about Conserve School is available at:

Photos courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education.

Posted by: Phil DeLong | June 17, 2014

First Annual Trail Race

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Conserve School was pleased this past Saturday to host the first (annual, we hope) Conserve School trail race, featuring 20 kilometer and 5 kilometer options (click here for results). A total of 72 runners, from as near as Land O’ Lakes and as far as California and New York, enjoyed comfortable temperatures, a mosquito-suppressing breeze, friendly volunteers, and race courses that featured the many faces of our Lowenwood campus. Both courses featured sections of narrow, technical single track to challenge the concentration of runners, along with wide, fast sections of rolling ski trails. The 20 k course took runners past seven lakes, affording beautiful views, in particular, of Lake Elaine, Little Donahue Lake, and Big Donahue Lake. Runners remarked about the beauty of the course, along with the mix of more challenging sections and faster sections.

Conserve School is pleased to partner in this venture with Jeff Crumbaugh and his race organization, Great Lakes Endurance. Crumbaugh’s vision is to use his races to educate runners about the environment and sustainability (read more about that here), making Conserve School an ideal partner. If you enjoy trail running, and appreciate efforts to do so in a sustainable way, consider joining us for next year’s race (date to be determined), or check out the other trail running and snowshoeing races that Great Lakes Endurance offers in several beautiful locations throughout Wisconsin and Michigan.

Events like these don’t happen successfully without the efforts of many dedicated volunteers, who make it look easier than it is. We extend our sincere thanks to the staff, family members, and alums who generously donated a chunk of their weekend to support this event. Our thanks, as well, go to Jeff and Lois Crumbaugh for their efforts to, like Conserve School, provide a venue for environmental education and activities that promote healthy lifestyles.

Phil DeLong
Director of Admissions

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | June 12, 2014

Andy Milbauer heads West

Temp Andy

Andy Milbauer

Andy Milbauer joined Conserve School in the fall of 2007 and over the past 7 years has greatly improved our Advanced Placement Environmental Science program. Some specifics include adding an evening math support component to the APES experience and increasing our students’ AP scores each year. Andy’s work with AP Environmental Science extended beyond the classroom as he became an AP Reader and helped grade exams for students from across the country.

In 2010 Andy and Conserve School Science Teacher Robert Eady were awarded a $10,000 Toyota Tapestry Grant in support of lake monitoring. Andy also worked with Robert Eady to develop the required environmental science course that all semester students take and has worked hard over the years to assist with the development of the school garden and to incorporate gardening into the course.

Andy has always shown himself to be a dynamic and caring individual in search of new challenges. We wish him well as the next chapter of his life takes him to Greeley, Colorado where he will teach high school science, they are very luck to have him. Andy has told us that he is especially looking forward to skiing in the mountains and kayaking in the rivers of this scenic area.

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Recently, I reached out to students for a few comments about Andy and his time at Conserve School. I have selected a few of the many responses to share here. I have also included some comments from positive notes about Andy that have been shared with me over the years.

 “My name is Andy. I have a kayak. With a walnut paddle.”-Andy Milbauer (remembered by a CS4 Student)

“You can tell it’s a freshwater whale, by the way it is.”-Andy Milbauer. What do you say to the teacher that impacted your conserve experience so much? Well, I would like to thank Andy for being such an inspiring teacher who taught APES so well. I couldn’t have asked for a better hiking leader with all of the camp singing (including patty lay back), lessons learned, and great memories created in the classroom and on Lake Superior. Thanks for always looking out for your students, we know you really do care. ~CS7 Student

Andy taught me so much and I learned so much about the environment and the effects that humans have on the environment. He is no doubt the teacher that I have learned the most from. He has touched my life in a wonderful way and I sure he will touch many more lives.” ~CS6 Student

“I am not an angry bald guy. I may look like one, but I am not.” -Andy Milbauer (remembered by a CS5 Student)

What a guy! Andy made science classes more exciting than I ever thought they could be. If he hadn’t been my adviser I wouldn’t be the confident, empowered woman I am today. Kudos to an awesome educator and fantastic human being. Good luck in Colorado! ~CS7 Student

Andy is such an awesome person and teacher, and I’m really sad that he will no longer be a teacher at Conserve. However, he’ll be thought of all the time by his former students and he’ll always be a part of Conserve. I am constantly reminded of all the things Andy taught us. I couldn’t have asked for a better applied ecology teacher or an exploration week leader. ~CS7 Student

 I can always remember his dislike for Smokey the Bear. ~CS5 Student

Fun Andy Story: (as best I can remember him telling it) “I went swimming one night on a lake that had a crayfish problem. Crayfish are nocturnal, and so when you look at the bottom of the lake it was like looking at a little army. Frightening, don’t you think?”-Andy Milbauer (remembered by a CS3 Student)

… what I had at Conserve School, I realize that I had something amazingly ground breaking. I’m comparing it to the Big Bang, it is that huge for me. You (Andy) were a huge contributor to my “Big Bang” experience at CS, and I just wanna say, THANK YOU SO MUCH! ~CS Alum

Thank you so much for teaching my favorite class this semester. I have really grown to appreciate science more, and have realized that science does have a lot to do with my life. Science isn’t my favorite subject, and it never has been, but you’ve introduced me to a part of science that is interesting. Thank you for that. ~CS Alum

He was not just my teacher, he was my friend. ~CS5 Student

 A few photos from Andy’s time at Conserve School.

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | June 3, 2014

Quote This!

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One of my favorite things to do is pairing the great photography of the students and staff of Conserve School with quotes. My goal is to inspire, educuate and entertain. The resulting “picture quotes” are shared through social media on the Conserve School Facebook and Twitter pages. I have included a few of the recent ones with this post for your consideration.


Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all accepted students receive significant scholarship support.

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | June 1, 2014

In the Porcupine Mountains

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Last Friday students headed out across the Northwoods for Exploration Week. During Exploration Week students spend six days (five nights) either in the Porcupine Mountains, hiking the North Country Trail, exploring the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, or canoeing through the Sylvania Wilderness Area.

During Exploration Week I appreciate the opportunity to check in with groups throughout the week. In this blog entry it is my pleasure to share with you a few comments and photos from my day yesterday with a group in the Porcupine Mountains.

The Porcupine Mountains are located on the shore of Lake Superior and it takes about 90 minutes to drive to the trail heads from Conserve School. I drove up in the morning and hiked in to join the group of students who were hiking with staff members Robert Eady and Annie Bussiere. When I arrived at their campsites at the mouth of the Little Carp River I found them just finishing breakfast. It was a pleasure to see how well the students functioned as a team as each member took responsibility for their role for the day. Kayla shared the poem, “Why I Wake Early” by Mary Oliver while the group sat on a giant piece of driftwood. In that setting it seemed especially appropriate.

Why I Wake Early

Kayla reading - Why I Wake Early

Kayla reading – Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.”
~ Mary Oliver

Later that morning the group gathered together and discussed their plans for the day. This included the creation of a daily group contract to help them work together better as a team. Lena who was the days scribe collected their contract in the group’s journal. Heather showed the group the route that they had selected for the day. Some concerns were raised regarding the length of the hike and the group identified some alternatives should they decide  that the proposed route was too ambitious. One of the nice aspects of hiking in the Porcupine Mountains is that there are a variety of routes. I took a few more photos of the group as they hiked away from their campsite. Later that day I rejoined them at their next campsite for dinner. I found them camped near Greenstone Falls. The group was in good spirits and in great shape. I appreciated the way that the students took charge of dinner and the quotes from Epictetus that Kayla shared after dinner. These were quotes that they had learned in class from history teacher Michael Salat. As the sun set I left the group and headed out. My next stop will be with the groups at Pictured Rocks.

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

P.S. If you look closely at the photos of Lake Superior you can see some white pieces of ice floating in the lake.
P.P.S. Yes, there were a lot of mosquitoes, but the group was well prepared and responded by creating an interesting song about the little critters.

Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all accepted students receive significant scholarship support.

Posted by: Phil DeLong | May 23, 2014

Conserve Conservation Corps

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Trails have played a pivotal role in the growth and development of our country, and in the history of exploration and conservation. Great expeditions, such as Lewis and Clark’s journey to explore the west, followed or created trails to gain access to new or significant natural areas. Poorly-designed or overused trails have led to environmental damage, leaving scars on the land that can be seen even today.

It’s no accident, then, that Michael Salat’s history class introduces students to sustainable trial building. This past week, Michael shared with students the role that trails have played in our history, including the work done during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps, which rebuilt trails in an effort to recover land that had been degraded and eroded over time. After sharing the principles of sustainable trail construction, Michael and his students donned their protective gear (hard hats, eyewear, toe caps, and shin guards), grabbed the tools of the trade (either a pulaski or a McLeod), and observed Michael’s demonstration of the proper ways to carry and use the tools. As they walked to the shores of Lake Elaine, Michael pointed out the sustainable features of the single-track trail that circumnavigates the lake. Students then spent time improving a newly-rerouted section of the trail, in the process gaining insight into the amount of work needed to create sustainable trails. They also, no doubt, have gained a new understanding of the intersection of history, land use, and conservation.

Phil DeLong
Director of Admissions

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | May 22, 2014

The Lady Yakkers stop by for a Paddle

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The Lady Yakkers stop by for a Paddle

Google Earth ImageIt was my privilege today to provide access for the Lady Yakkers kayaking club’s outing on Big Bateau Lake. Big Bateau can be found on the southern edge of the Sylvania Wilderness Area. Their caravan of cars, trucks, roof racks, and trailers followed me through the hemlock forests on the eastern edge of campus to the Conserve School boat landing at Big Bateau Lake. The vehicles did a bit of a square dance as they took turns in the limited space at the landing while dropping of the boats. Proper paperwork for the Sylvania Wilderness Area was filled out and sixteen boats slipped into the Wisconsin waters of Big Bateau Lake. After a few group pictures the kayakers spread out and spent the next 90 minutes exploring the lake. Finally, they all came together again at the landing and after loading boats, they followed me to the Lowenstine Academic Building (LAB). At the LAB we had a delicious deli lunch followed by a campus tour lead by graduate fellow Matt Norwood. At the conclusion of their tour I gave them copies of the pictures that I had taken of the group and invited them to return next year for another paddle.

One of my favorite things to do at Conserve School is to share it with others, so this visit by the Lady Yackers made it a particularly, “Beautiful Day in the Northwoods.”

~Stefan Anderson
Head of School

A selection of images from the day…

Posted by: csdailyblog | May 21, 2014

Magic on the Lake



~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS8 student Nate Martineau. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Nate is from Lansing, Michigan where he attends East Lansing High School.~

Magic on the Lake

Conserve School Learning Goal: After successfully completing a Conserve School semester, a student has come to know Lowenwood, has developed gratitude for this gift from James R. Lowenstine, and, through their deepening love of this place, has become inspired to be a caretaker of the natural world.

I’ve never really believed in magic. Not since I was a little kid, anyways. But if ever there has been a time that it has existed, tonight is surely it.

The sun is beginning to set in the western sky. The bottoms of the clouds are a perfectly flat ceiling overhanging the north, south and west. The rest of the clouds reach upwards into an endless azure sky deepening to cobalt then midnight blue in the east. The full moon has cleared the horizon and the surface of Big Donahue Lake elongates its form as the faint ripples from our drifting rowboat break its outline into hundreds of exquisite, fluctuating crests of pale yellow reflections and troughs of deep blue lake water. The sun grows lower as we watch, the cloud-ceiling catching its pink and orange light. The trees in the bog stand silhouetted against the brilliant sunset. The beauty is doubled by the mirror upon which we float, whose reflection perfectly recreates every last beautiful detail. We sit there with one of our favorite books held between us, taking turns reading aloud David James Duncan’s superb writing from The River Why.

A loon surfaces a stone’s throw away from our boat. Now we see another loon, flying in from the northwest. It makes several wide circles around us before straightening its flight into a line that passes not twenty feet away from us, then alights on the water with a noisy crash-landing that, somehow, still comes off as graceful. We freeze. We don’t want to scare them off. Five minutes pass. Then, they dance. They dip their heads, dive, turn in circles, raise their bills skyward, flap their wings all in perfect unison.

Another five minutes pass. Now the loons begin to swim straight towards our boat. We are both thinking the same thing: Don’t move a muscle. Neither of us does as they approach closer, then dance again, then keep swimming towards us. We hold our breath as they swim closer and closer. Surely they are going notice us and turn back! But they don’t. They swim right by us, less than ten feet from the boat. With their red eyes, dagger bills, and checkered backs, this pair of huge birds a paddle-length away from us are a breathtaking reminder of the wildness of the Northwoods.

After the longest, most beautiful half-minute of my life they swim away, and we see that it’s time to paddle back to shore. The sun and moon are even more beautiful than before as we beach our boat for the night.

Tonight I was truly able to appreciate this “gift from James R. Lowenstine.” As we rowed to shore I was thinking, We are so lucky to live here, in such a beautiful place. I hoped that this place would remain here in all of its surreal beauty, forever. And many more places like it. Though, I think, no place can quite compare to the beauty of Lowenwood. The place that we all have the fortune to live in for a semester of our lives; lives that will be, and indeed already have been, changed from our experiences here.

A friend asked me a few weeks ago, “If you were to describe Conserve School in one word, what would it be?” and I didn’t know the answer to her question. But now I do.


A picture does not do this story justice, and indeed no photographs were taken. I hope that my words may be considered picture enough.

~Nate Martineau, Conserve School Semester 8

Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all accepted students receive significant scholarship support.

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