Posted by: Phil DeLong | April 4, 2014

Fishing for Candy

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It is a widely-accepted fact that candy is an effective motivator. Well aware of this fact, science teacher Andy Milbauer, adapting the work of a colleague, created a lab for his Advanced Placement Environmental Science (APES) course that uses candy as a way to facilitate learning. The lab, which Andy entitled “Tragedy of the Commons Fishing Contest,” allows students to experience the concepts espoused in Garrett Hardin’s famous essay, Tragedy of the Commons

Hardin’s essay asserts that the sharing of a common resource, such as global fisheries, leads to exploitation of the resource as individuals seek to optimize their personal gains. In the lab activity, students, in groups of three or four, commercially “fish” for different species (Swedish fish, sour worms, gum drops, and M&Ms), using the tools of the trade (straws — no hands allowed!). As Andy observes, Hardin’s concepts remain abstract “until the students explore it with a finite amount of shared candy, and experience how values shift as the abundance of the resource changes over time.” Plus, the students sure do enjoy eating the candy they’ve “harvested”.

This lab also injects an experiential element into the only class at Conserve School that is primarily lecture-based. Unlike the core science class, Applied Ecology and Sustainable Systems, which is heavily experiential, the APES elective relies primarily on lecture, reading, and study to introduce students to the content that they will need to succeed in this college-level course. Like all Advanced Placement courses, APES challenges students to adapt to the pace and style of a college-level course as they prepare for next month’s APES exam. Sounds kind of “fishy” to me . . .

Phil DeLong
Director of Admissions

Posted by: Mary Anna Thornton | April 1, 2014

Conserve Students Practice the Art of Scientific Argumentation

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Recently students worked in groups with Conserve School Science Teacher Robert Eady to develop detailed arguments on controversial environmental topics like alternative fuels and genetically modified grains. Following a standard debate format, students presented in teams, with one pair of students making a pro argument and the other making a con argument on the same topic. Each side presented rebuttals and asked questions intended to reveal weak areas in the opposing viewpoint. At the end of the presentations, students in the audience, who had been taking notes all along, were responsible for asking the presenters thoughtful questions that revealed more insights into the dilemmas at hand.

Although students followed the debate format, Robert had from the beginning of this unit asked students to frame the activity as collaborative rather than competitive, emphasizing that the object of the exercise was not to win the argument but rather to advance knowledge, just as professional scientists do. Robert specifically asked students to focus on the question: “Does the evidence presented support the claim being made?” (You can read more about the “Model-Evidence-Link” educational method that Robert used during this unit here.)

The skills involved in constructing, analyzing, refuting, and modifying logical arguments are central to the scientific method; they therefore take center stage in environmental science classes at Conserve School. Students usually have limited skills in this area, in part because of lack of exposure. Thinking through arguments and evidence is challenging and time-consuming, and the concentrated instruction and practice necessary to address this topic in a meaningful way is difficult to find time for within a standard high school schedule. In addition, our popular culture glorifies superficial sound-bites over lengthy, sensitive analyses, so, unfortunately, most high school students have no idea of the complexity and uncertainty underlying environmental issues. This curricular area is therefore critical for us to address at Conserve School, since we are committed to teaching students how to be well-informed environmental stewards.

With the small class sizes, longer class periods, and highly-motivated students at Conserve School, we can give the important skills of constructing, analyzing, and revising arguments the time and thought they deserve. I visited class as students made presentations last week on Friday, and I was delighted to observe how well-prepared, courteous, and articulate students were. When Robert asked students if they would be interested in looking at some of the presentation topics in even more depth later in the semester, students responded with great interest: they actually cheered! It was heart-warming to see such a high level of investment in class projects and to witness the students’ intense interest in the topics under investigation.

– Mary Anna Thornton, Assistant Head of School

Posted by: Mary Anna Thornton | March 30, 2014

Advisory Get-Togethers at Conserve School

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Conserve School’s advisory system is an important aspect of our program because it facilitates strong bonds within our community. Each Conserve School student has an advisor: a teacher or administrator who meets with their advisees one-on-one every week or two, goes over their grades and e-portfolios with them regularly, eats lunch with them on Thursdays, and hosts them for special activities two or three times a semester. The advisory system ensures that every Conserve School student touches base regularly with a caring adult who keeps close tabs on them and is available whenever they need assistance.

Special advisee meals held at staff homes are common occurrences on campus. Today I hosted Sunday brunch for my own advisees along with the advisory groups of Phil DeLong, Director of Admissions, and Kathleen O’Connor, Spanish Teacher and Academic Dean. We enjoyed caramel rolls, an egg and spinach breakfast casserole, fruit, and  a variety of other goodies.

Students see staff members in a new light when they visit our homes and learn about our individual personalities and histories. They discover that, despite the age and generational differences between staff and students, we share common interests and experiences. Today at brunch we talked, for example, about why we are all interested in non-traditional education: students discussed their prior experiences as students or homeschoolers; Phil shared about “unschooling” his own children; and I talked about my own decision to “escape” early from high school in order to work for several months before going to college. When students visit my home, they also have a chance to meet my youngest son, 15-year-old John, and my husband Jack, who works on maintenance and stewardship projects at Conserve.  Students often have already met Jack, but, because we work in very different areas of the Conserve School program, they usually do not realize we are a couple until they actually see us together at home. :) Students also enjoy meeting family pets — in my case, two cats.

These photos are from our Sunday brunch today and also from an advisory brunch that Robert Eady and Nancy Schwartz held a few weeks ago. Robert, who teaches science and ceramics, and Nancy, who teaches art, have been married for many years and have four children and several grandchildren who visit frequently. Many students have commented over the years about how much they enjoy spending time with Robert and Nancy — in part because they are such wonderful, caring, talented people, but also because they represent for students a happy vision of growing older within a loving family and a caring community, with jobs that are enjoyable and rewarding and that contribute to the common good.

Advisory meals at staff homes humanize staff members in students’ eyes and facilitate the warm, trusting staff-student relationships that are a key component of the Conserve School experience. By sharing our personal lives with students, we also help them progress toward one of Conserve’s 14 school-wide learning goals: developing “a hopeful and realistic outlook, including a personal vision for a better future.”

-Mary Anna Thornton, Assistant Head of School

Posted by: Phil DeLong | March 27, 2014

Open Mic Night

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This past weekend, at the urging of students, staff hosted an open mic night in the Lowenwood Recreation Center. With a bit of furniture rearranging, soft lighting, and some snacks, the LRC was transformed into a welcoming setting for students and staff to share their talents. Students chose to share vocal and instrumental music, poetry, rap, improv piano, and even the rarely-seen “exhibition knitting”.

The evening proved to be not only a forum for sharing talents, but also a vehicle for strengthening connections within the community. Lexi shares some of her insights into the value of the evening, writing that “last Saturday CS8 had our first open mic night. That night we also had dapper dinner, where we all dress up for no prominent reason, so we were all decked out in our dresses, tuxedos, wooden ties, and suspenders. The attire and setting of the evening gave off a sense of a formal coffee shop poetry slam. Some of the acts included singing, rapping, poems, knitting (pretty exciting if you ask me), and group performances of various sorts. We also had tea, hot cocoa, and cookies. Everyone brought a mug and just relaxed with their tea as we observed our peers’ many talents.

“We had so much fun. You could see the faces of others lighting up when something hit home with them. (One) poem really hit me hard. (The) poem pointed out all the struggles that people might have had in their lifetimes. It talked about the breakdown of self-worth. It made me realize that I am worth so much more than I think.

“I teared up along with many others, but through this experience all of us grew closer. I could see us comforting each other. People faced their stage fright and some might have been out of their comfort zone by just watching the others perform. No matter if you got up and sang into the mic or you sat contemplating the string of words that escaped the mouths of the poets, we all grew bigger, better, and bolder.

“It really meant a great deal to me to connect on an emotional level with my peers. I could see that no matter how different we all seem, we all have struggles and we all can overcome them. I’m falling in love with this level of respect for my peers and this community. I’m really starting to appreciate all that Conserve has to offer, not only physically but also mentally. Hopefully, next time, I might test out that mic myself!”

Phil DeLong
Director of Admissions

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | March 19, 2014

Dancing with the Snowflakes

Kaleb

Kaleb

~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS8 student Kaleb Kramer. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Kaleb is from Ostrander, Ohio where he attends the Ohio Virtual Academy.~

Dancing with the Snowflakes

Conserve School Learning Goal: After successfully completing a Conserve School semester, a student frequently takes time for outdoor play and reflection.

14-02-07 Field Instruction Kaleb 2Wind whistles through the fibers of my hat, singing a counterpoint to the snow and ice keening beneath my skis. I lean to one side and glide slowly to the left, hurriedly picking one of the skis up and moving it to one side so I don’t topple over into the solid snow, adding to my collection of skiing scrapes. Nature’s symphony quiets down as I begin coasting up the next hill, and kick off to reach the top, settling back into the rhythm I had developed as I glided across the blue trail.

The week before, I would not have even tried to ski the trail. I would have thought I had too much homework to finish before taking time to go skiing, even on a weekend. Warm and sunny weather changed my mind. It was too beautiful to stay inside and work on schoolwork.

The last time I had thought that had been in early middle school. It was at that time I’d switched to a perspective that academics were the most important thing I could be doing, and that everything else could only happen once schoolwork was finished. That only got worse once I started high school and school days jumped from six hours to over twelve hours. There was not enough time for anything else while maintaining grades that met my expectations for myself, especially last semester when I added college classes.

Conserve School Ski Trails

Conserve School Ski Trails

A month here has changed that though. Starting with the warm weather, I started deciding to get outside more because being inside all the time has started stifling me. I just need to get outside. I don’t remember feeling that before. Going outside has always been amazingly helpful for me, but I just couldn’t prioritize in a way that got me outdoors enough.

I really realized that during this trip around the blue loop. I’ve wanted to ski that trail for a while now, but never could quite find time to do it after I completed my homework. So, I decided to do an hour of homework and then ski it, leaving the rest for that evening. It was magnificent. Nobody else was on the trail at the time, so it was incredibly quiet and peaceful.

It really snowballed me in the face with the realization of how much I have missed out by being too obsessed with classwork. I also realized how much I love cross country skiing. I had been slowly realizing that I was obsessing too much over schoolwork, but this dance across the snow accompanied by the orchestra of wind and snow really made it click. I’m really going to try and keep up cross-country skiing when I go home. (Snowshoeing is a different story though.)

~Kaleb Kramer, Conserve School Semester 8

More photos of students enjoying cross country skiing this semester at Conserve 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 | March 18, 2014

Sunset on the Black Trail

Nate

Nate

~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.~

Sunset on the Black Trail

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.

Sun's Rays on the BlackTrailIt was a beautiful sunset. No, it was much more than that–it was just past five o’ clock on a clear winter evening, standing on the Black Trail looking West across a vast, wild landscape. The sinking sun cast its brilliant orange-gold rays across the snow. The bog’s stunted trees threw their shadows far to the East. There was not a sound to be heard–nature stood in silent reverence towards a Western horizon beset by a magical display of exquisite, fiery beauty. Where we stood, the sun shone low through the needles of two young White Pines. We were entranced by the light, its soft quality reflecting that of the trees’ delicate yet perseverant needles.

This evening on the Black Trail represented one of the countless times I had ventured outside during my first three weeks at Lowenwood. From skiing down the “hill of death” to snowshoeing the bog to birding Little Donahue Lake at six-thirty in the morning, I had been having an immensely fun time.

Sunset Through the PinesI had experienced the deep snow and biting cold of a Northwoods winter and the satisfaction of seeing much of Lowenwood’s boreal wildlife. But nothing could transcend this experience; not even watching the Northern Lights atop the sledding hill four nights before. For the first time, I felt as deeply a part of the landscape as the bog’s stunted spruce and the forest’s towering White Pines. For the first time I felt a deep connection and appreciation for this place, “this gift from James R. Lowenstine”.

The shadows thrown across the snow, the sun blazing through the white pines and cedars on one side of the trail, casting a golden light on the spruces and birches on the other. The utterly calm, windless expanse of snow, the stunted trees, the bog. The hare and coyote tracks in the otherwise untouched snow. These all made this experience stand out for me. Most memorable of all, though, was the connection I had gained to the landscape and the environment here at Lowenwood, and then realizing that it would be here, at this magnificent place, that I will be spending another thirteen weeks.

Eventually, reluctantly, we had to tear ourselves away from the magical scene. I knew I would be back the next night.

~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.

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | March 18, 2014

Prints and Partiality

Jake

Jake

~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS8 student Jake Jung. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Jake is from Green Bay, Wisconsin where he is homeschooled.~

Prints and Partiality

Conserve School Learning Goal: After completing a semester at Conserve School, a student appreciates and experiences the wonder of nature; values fundamental, life-long connections with nature; and expresses those connections in creative ways.

This past week cohorts A and C gathered together in the Community Room to learn the skill of tracking. Under the guidance of Robert Eady, one of the science teachers, and a handful of Graduate Fellows, we studied the different characteristics of animal tracks, such as gait, pace and stride. After a few minutes of leaping, pronking and hopping around the room (in order to cement the different movements in our brain), we were divided into groups and sent out into Conserve School’s Lowenwood campus. Tasked with finding and deciphering footmarks, my fellow trackers and I stomped through the snow pushing toward the section of the woods which we had been assigned.

Porcupine tracks!

Porcupine tracks!

A few minutes into our adventure, our eyes fell upon some interesting markings a few yards from the trail. Animated, we trudged over to investigate. The small causeway created by the tracks gave the culprit away: A porcupine! Most of us, having never seen one of these balls of spines in the wild before, began to enthusiastically follow the tracks. Through a thicket and around some trees we chased. Then, quite unexpectedly, the trail ended at the base of a pine tree. Our vision slowly crept upwards, until we saw it: an eight pound lump of bristles, slowly climbing the tree! Literally jumping up and down with excitement, we began to jot down our notes and snap photographs, ecstatic at our finding.

That three hour period of tromping through the beauty of Lowenwood was an exhilarating experience. The calm thrills of following those paw prints offered a fantastic opportunity for some reflection on my own, and humanity’s relationship with nature. The reasoning, I think, for why we humans do what we do can be boiled down to one word: Love. Every person on earth loves. We can’t help it’s a part of who we are. The problems we face in the world aren’t caused by a lack of love, but by our preferences over what to love. We love ourselves, more than we love each other. We love taking the easy way out, rather than doing what is right. I consider this plight to be the root of many of the environmental problems we face today.

Porcupine!

Porcupine!

Many of us, especially me, have become out of touch with the earth. In our age of air conditioning and electronic comfort, we have distanced ourselves from the beauty, peace and fruit of nature. This distance has injured our relationship with nature, and the resulting fall out has led to many of its current anthropogenic abuses. One of keys aspects of love is caring. When you truly love something, you do whatever it takes to help it and build it up. The last thought in your mind is do harm. Our lack of love for the environment has led to a lack of caring. This paucity is very apparent when you look at the ecological problems we face today: Pollution, over fishing, deforestation, and the list goes on. We no longer love nature, and our actions reflect it.

The question we need to ask now is how to mend our relationship with nature. How can we love again? My time at Conserve School, especially my tracking adventure has offered me some insight on this issue. Being in the outdoors, exploring, sledding, skiing, tracking and the like has really instilled in me a love for nature. The joys of gliding through Lowenwood on a brisk afternoon and trudging through a crisp white blanket of snow can do wonders to an indifferent heart and I am certain that such outdoor experiences can have the same effect on everyone.

So, let’s get back to loving nature again: I hear that the trails are beautiful today.

~Jake Jung, Conserve School Semester 8

A variety of photos from the lesson on tracking.

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 | March 10, 2014

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Morning

Nyika

Nyika

~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS8 student Nyika Campbell. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Nyika is from Madison, Wisconsin where she attends Madison East High School.~

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Morning

Conserve School Learning Goal: After successfully completing a Conserve School semester, a student appreciates and experiences the wonder of nature; values fundamental, life-long connections with nature; and expresses those connections in creative ways.

Temp NyikaWhat woods these are I hardly I know.
The trees are tall and watch me though;
They will not mind me stopping here
To watch their woods fill up with snow.

…But the trees do mind. I can feel it, not the the sinister fairy tale maliciousness but a high aloof indifference. This is a landscape of wild, brooding, serenity. Beyond the groomed path where nature has allowed me to trespass the drifted snow piles to my chest. A barrier of a thousand million crystals that couldn’t care less who or what is trying to disturbs them on this glittering morning.

Living always within the carefully groomed and cultivated confines of paths and roads and houses it is easy to believe that nature has been tamed, mastered, corralled into designated areas. And indeed, setting out this morning, skis freshly waxed, following each carefully marked intersection, I too looked on myself as master of this environment. A quick ski, I thought, through the wood, looking on the outing much as one would waking through an art museum: a calculated appreciation of something completely within your control.

As I glide over the trail the crisp air fills my lungs, snow muffling sound into a living silence. The calm of morning erodes, a faint breeze swirling to snatch snow flakes from the trees flinging them skyward like diamonds in the sharp winter sunlight. Watching those tiny bits of frozen ice I begin to realize how enormous the morning is. I am not not going through the wood, I am engulfed by it, merely scratching the surface as I stop by.

Pausing, the trees respond to my presence creaking in a language only the swish of my skis can decipher. Tall trunks, stripped of appendages standing guard over sunlit drifts give a warning: you are a stranger here. You may come and go gawking at our world, but you are the trespasser. We were here long before your birth and will remain long after you are dead. Your shadow and doubled bared trail will leave but the briefest mark on our land.

I subconsciously slow my passage, reveling in the way the snow casts alien shadows, embracing the morning, and the allowance of these hills to my trespassing. Dragging my feet like an unwilling guest I do not want to leave this other world, but neither do I belong to this landscape, free and untrammeled as it is. A woodpecker agrees, echoing the wind that curls against my cheek. Dear, it says, I’m glad you stopped by, it was lovely, but now, you should be getting on your way. You have promises to keep…

The wood are lovely dark and deep,
But you have check in times to keep,
And miles to go before you eat.
And miles to go before you eat.

–(with apologies to Robert Frost)

~Nyika Campbell, Conserve School Semester 8

More snowy woods photos from Conserve School students Nate Martineau and Sarah McCarthy

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 | March 7, 2014

Fear

Maya Dizack

Maya

~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS8 student Maya Dizack. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Maya is from Racine, Wisconsin where she attends The Prairie School.~

Fear

Conserve School Learning Goal: After successfully completing a Conserve School semester, a student Demonstrates the observational and reflective skills necessary to the development of a meaningful and lasting sense of place.

With eager faces my cohort entered the English room to the hit song Monster Mash. Because most of us had visited during a Prospective Student Day, we had pretty good assumptions of Jeff Rennicke’s, our English teacher, agenda. After some pre-class chatter Jeff  told us to put on our outdoor clothes and we then trekked towards the Black Trail. Without any instruction Jeff told us to keep quiet and walk in a single file to an unknown destination. As we approached our mystery destination, we spotted very goofy looking eyes tacked to trees and brush. Once we finally arrived at Jeff’s designated spot we did an exercise where we went through freak incidents (i.e. death by wolf or death by a vending machine) and paired them with their yearly statistics. It was astonishing to find that most wilderness based incidents were rarer than urban incidents, which allowed us to segway into our underlying topic; fear. As a whole, our class discussed and identified two types of fear – objective and subjective. We defined objective fear as a more instinctive based fear of the familiar which originated from paleolithic times. We concluded that this type of fear was derived from rational life threatening encounters in the wilderness. While on the contrary, subjective fear originated more from neolithic times as agriculture soon took away the familiarity of the wilderness. Subjective fears develop into more irrational fears such as demons or a fear of failure.

A few days after the class, in an one on one conversation Jeff asked me what my greatest fear was. The question had really stumped me. I knew that my greatest fear would most likely be a subjective one, but I really never had that much experience dealing with them. At the time, I told Jeff that my greatest fear was running out of time, however, looking back in retrospect I now know that my fear of time slipping  away is one fear out of many more.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to go on a cross country ski trip into the Sylvania Wilderness and then howl for wolves at night led by teachers Robert Eady and Nancy Schwartz. Prior to the trip I had never explored the campus or cross country skied over the course of the last four weeks, however, without acknowledging this I felt pretty confident. Only when we began our journey into the woods did I realize how much of a challenge skiing at night and unconditioned was. Because of my slow pace, I was afraid of how I would effect my peers around me. I felt awful, since no matter how hard I tried to ski I could not achieve the pace I had projected. After a while, a gap between the skier in front of me and behind me had formed and neither were visible, so for most of the journey I felt alone. Skiing alone at night was an experience I will never forget. With only darkness to keep as company, thoughts begin to run wild. It seemed as if bits and pieces of English class began to haunt me. At some points of the journey I could have sworn I saw or heard something, but for the most part I was just plain uncomfortable. With sweat dripping down my back and cold air biting at my face, my muscles just flat out screamed at me. Not wanting to go on, I mentally urged the snow itself to just swallow me whole, so I would not have to make the journey back; but once we reached the middle of the lake, I completely forgot my regrets and wishes for rest. Our group finally had met up and quickly became silent. No one complained or fidgeted which indicated their attentiveness to their surroundings. Instead the group was dead silent; awestruck at the sight of the sky. It seemed as if every star in the night sky was visible. Finally Robert spoke, and the wolf howling commenced. The anticipation was almost tangible in the air immediately after the first howl, but only the wind responded. After several attempts at howling, there was no response from the wolves. However, there was not even a twinge of disappointment, since we were so amazed by the impeccable view. In the few moments of introspective silence I realized that a bond between the Sylvania Wilderness had just been developed. I suddenly became aware of why Lowenstine wanted to share his experience with the land so badly with future generations. It is absolutely true that you cannot protect something you do not love.

In all honesty it’s challenging facing different concepts, meeting new people, and seeing different sites. Calling a new place home is something everyone struggles with. Objective and subjective based fear pushes you to give up and turn back to where you originally came from. However, when you conquer that make or break moment you realize the payoff is far more worth the fear. By acknowledging and accepting fear as part of yourself; you ultimately form a deeper connection with wherever you are.

~Maya Dizack, Conserve School Semester 8

You can read more about the Wolf Howling activity from Nancy Schwartz’s teacher website. (Click Here)

More photos from the experiences Maya discusses in this entry.

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 | March 6, 2014

Weekend Fun

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Weekends at Conserve School provide students with ample options for relaxing, exploring, playing, and nurturing relationships with their peers. The beauty of the weekend is that students have few obligations, other than meals and periodic check-ins, but ample time for fun and relaxation, and numerous activity options. This past weekend illustrates this well.

After a busy week of active classes, Friday night is a great time to just “hang out”, do some star gazing, or play games. This past Friday, Head of School Stefan Anderson screened a couple episodes of “Sherlock”, while Graduate Fellow Sarah hosted a viewing of “Princess Mononoke”. On Saturday, a number of students rose early in the day to volunteer at a local winter festival, Klondike Days. Other options for students included a staff-led yoga session, a lip-synch competition, two snowshoe treks into the Sylvania Wilderness (one led by English teacher Jeff Rennicke, the other by Head of School Stefan Anderson), and an overnight campout in quinzhees (snow forts). The intrepid campers can brag about having slept in a snow fort in temperatures that dropped as low as 22 degrees below zero! Sunday’s choices included another opportunity to volunteer at Klondike Days, transportation to area churches, and ice skating at the Land O’ Lakes ice rink. Many students chose to explore campus, via skis or snowshoes, alone or with friends.

While not part of the curriculum, strictly speaking, these weekend activities are a fundamental part of the Conserve School experience. Like Jim Lowenstine, our students deepen their connection with Lowenwood, and more broadly with the natural world, by exploring and playing on the land. Students learn more about themselves, and about how to effectively interact with others, when they spend time with their peers and adults. By taking time to relax and play, we’re all reminded of the importance of stepping back from our obligations to refresh ourselves.

Phil DeLong
Director of Admissions

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