Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 18, 2014

The Five Lake Loop

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One of the hallmarks of the Conserve School experience is experiential learning. This week students in Jeff Rennicke’s English classes and Michael Salat’s history classes made the Sylvania Wilderness their classroom. Their teachers had them experiencing some of what the Lewis and Clark expedition might have experienced as the class navigated five lakes and built their portaging skills. Along the way they took time for readings and discussions about the challenges and successes the Lewis and Clark expedition faced when portaging around the Great Falls of the Missouri River. They also read excerpts from Jon Krakauer’s classic book Into the Wild. You can read more about this at Jeff Rennicke’s teacher website.

Students traveled in small groups and used the paddling and portaging skills that they had learned in their Conserve School Field Instruction class.

It is our pleasure to share these photographs of the trip.

Enjoy!

Stefan Anderson
Head of Conserve School

Conserve School is a semester school that  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 | September 18, 2014

Campus Stewardship

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Wednesdays at Conserve School are a bit different from the other days of week. In the morning, students attend the classes that would typically meet in the afternoon, leaving the entire afternoon available for Stewardship class. This core class blends sustainability education, college and career preparation, and service learning. In the first half of the class, Stewardship for Life, students explore topics related to preparations for their futures, including college and potential careers. Typically, the afternoon begins with the entire student body enjoying a presentation from a guest, such as practitioners of environmental and outdoor careers. For instance, we were joined today by Eric Anderson, Wildlife Professor from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, who related his experiences researching carnivores such as bobcats and wolves. You can read about last week’s speakers on the Teacher Page of Rachel Carpenter, Assistant Director of Instruction and Lead Stewardship Teacher. Following the speaker, students break into four cohorts to discuss their reflections on the speaker’s presentation, and to explore topics related to preparing for their futures (today, we spent time preparing for the October 15 PSAT exam).

In the second half of the class, Stewardship in Action, students and staff participate in what we call campus stewardship. Stewardship projects provide opportunities for students to contribute to the operations and well-being of the campus and our community, in the same way that members of a family contribute to the functioning of their family unit. Unlike community service, in which students freely give their time to others in the wider community, stewardship is something that is expected of all of us, and all contribute. Students at the beginning of the semester are placed into eight smaller stewardship groups which, under the guidance of a staff member, focus their efforts on a particular area of campus stewardship. Groups this semester include outdoor gardening, three-season gardening, indoor gardening, kitchen, solo site maintenance, butterflies and bees, habitat improvement, and feeder watch/picture posts. Each group also rotates through the responsibilities of collecting recycling and maintaining the compost system. Over the course of the semester our students, in addition to contributing to community well-being, will enjoy the opportunity to learn, first-hand, important lessons in sustainability. It’s our hope that they’ll leave here as more capable stewards not only of our planet, but of their their personal well-being and futures.

Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 15, 2014

CS9 Triathlon

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On Saturday Conserve School History Teacher Michael Salat organized a triathlon as part of weekend activities. Students had the option of competing individually or as teams. Individuals kayaked 3/4 of a mile on Big Donahue Lake and then took to their bikes for a six kilometer ride on campus trails. After the bike ride they finished with a three kilometer run. Teams began in canoes and then one team member did the bike ride followed by the other running. Other students and staff helped organize the event and keep it running smoothly. A big thanks to English Teacher Jeff Rennicke for taking the photos associated with this blog post.

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Conserve School is a semester school that  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 | September 12, 2014

May the Forest Be With You

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This week, during science class, Conserve School students took a “field trip” to the west side of campus. As part of their study of forestry science, Robert, Leanna, and the students rode bikes to a part of campus that is undergoing a timber harvest, as prescribed by Conserve School’s forest stewardship plan.

Once at the site, students interacted with Ken Adamovich, the logger running the timber harvest. Ken gave a students a close-up look at modern logging practices and equipment, including a machine called a “processor”, which fells a tree, limbs it, and cuts it into sections of pre-programmed length — all in one operation. Students were given the opportunity to consider not only the “how” of logging, but the “why” of forest management. After observing an area of recently-logged forest, students investigated a nearby area that had been logged two season ago, to make note of the natural regeneration that is occurring. This first-hand experience created tangible context as they consider the benefits and challenges of managing forest resources.

May the forest be with you!

Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 11, 2014

Student Nature Photography

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This semester I have been continually impressed by both the quality of the students’ nature photography and the number of excellent picture takers on campus. In this blog entry I have put  together a collection of nature shots from the past week. I encourage you to note both the variety of images and the number of different names credited for these photos.

Sincerely,

Stefan Anderson
Head of School


Conserve School is a semester school that  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 | September 10, 2014

Gather, Grow, Go!

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Wednesday afternoons at Conserve School, students and staff dedicate time to Stewardship in Action through a program called Gather, Grow, Go! The afternoons typically begin with the students gathering for a presentation by a guest speaker who informs students of future college and career opportunities. Following the speaker, students are divided into four groups to discuss and explore issues in order to grow their understanding of themselves. Finally, student go out onto the campus to participate in service projects. Students are split into groups and work together as a team for the entire semester on a certain project. Projects include a host of diverse activities such as habitat improvement, composting, gardening, trail restoration, baking, and beekeeping.

This week students gathered for a joint presentation by Tyler Norman who is a part of the Beehive Design Collective who spoke about mountain top mining, and Carol Reyes who spoke about her work with the Dine people trying to fight against coal mining on Black Mesa, Arizona. You can read more about the Black Mesa issues here. They then broke into small groups for an exercise aimed at helping them grow their understanding of their passions and talents. Finally they broke into their project groups with some students moving into the kitchen to prepare food for exploration week, others heading out into the gardens, and still others working with the school’s tower gardens.

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 10, 2014

Sharing Wisdom

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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.

Enjoy!

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 9, 2014

Outdoor Classrooms – Spanish!

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In addition to our other class offerings, Conserve School provides instruction in math and Spanish to help students keep up with their regular academic progression. Yesterday morning was so beautiful that teacher Kathleen O’Connor held class outside. In the photos you may note that students use small white boards to reduce paper use and share their work with each other. In many of the photos students are seated on Leopold Benches that were built by students in previous semesters. This area is located at the south end of the Lowenstine Academic Building. Not pictured are the whiteboards that are attached to the outside of the building for use in group instruction.

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 8, 2014

Mark and Recapture

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Last week students in Environmental Science class did a mark & recapture activity. On the first day of the activity students traveled to the Conserve School sledding hill where they captured orthopterans (crickets, grasshoppers, katydids and locusts) and marked them with a small dot of non-toxic paint. A few days later the students returned to the spot and recaptured orthopterans. By dividing the number of orthopterans originally marked by the percentage of those found marked in the recaptured group the students are able to estimate the total orthopteran population in the area.

In the photos, you can see our students on a small section of campus that includes an ephemeral pond and a hill and that was disturbed by construction. Once the school buildings were completed, the area was planted with prairie grasses and wildflowers native to the Midwest. Located just behind the school garden, this open, natural area is often used for science projects, seed collection, star-gazing, and, in the winter, sledding.

The mark and recapture lab gives students the opportunity to learn and practice a population estimation method used commonly in wildlife research. This activity provides a great combination of outdoor activity, college-preparatory learning, and just plain fun. If you like the outdoors as much as our students and staff do, you really can’t beat running around in tall grass on a beautiful afternoon with a butterfly net and a paint pot!

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 8, 2014

Semester 8 Reflections

14-06-05 Picnic Group Photo 1On Saturday, June 7th, 2014 Conserve School semester 8 came to a close with the semester celebration ceremony held in the Lowenstine Auditorium. At that ceremony students were recognized for their achievements throughout the semester and the community took a moment to look back over the preceding 17 weeks. A highlight of the ceremony was the student addresses given by Erica Anderson, Nathan Hunt, and Marina Henke. Those student addresses are now available on YouTube and I invite you to take a moment to view them.

Sincerely,

Stefan Anderson
Head of Conserve School

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