Posted by: Stefan Anderson | February 4, 2016

First Snowshoe

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On Wednesdays the school day at Conserve School ends a bit earlier than on other days. I took advantage of this fact this week to introduce a group of students to one of my favorite hikes. We began at the Lowenstine Academic Building (LAB) where we donned snowshoes and were joined by my two golden retrievers, Teddy & Copper.

16-02-03 Sylvania Snowshoe 13 Route 3_75  miles  or 6 mkFrom the LAB we traveled north skirting the shores of Little Donahue Lake and Lake Elaine. We soon came upon the campus boundary which is also the border with Michigan. Crossing the border we entered the Sylvania Wilderness Area. Upon entering the Sylvania we left trails behind as we bushwhacked to the shore of Big Bateau Lake. We continued north passing Florence Lake and eventually arrived on the southern shore of Loon Lake. The trip out was three kilometers, not a long distance, but the heavy snow made it feel much farther.

After a brief break at Loon Lake we followed our path back to campus. The trip back took half as long as the trip out because we no longer had to create a path through the deep snow. I was very pleased to see the smiles and on the tired, but satisfied, students as we returned the snowshoes to storage and headed to the dining room for a well earned meal.

~Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Posted by: csdailyblog | December 16, 2015

We Proceed On – Reflections on CS11

Temp Maren~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS11 student Maren A. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Maren is from Green Bay, Wisconsin where she attends Green Bay East High School.~

We Proceed On

“I hope to push myself out of my comfort zone, become a stronger environmental steward, and form close relationships with the people and land around me.”

The time has come for us to reflect on the past 16 weeks, each of which has been filled with change, new experiences, realizations, memories, lessons, and blessings. I have most definitely been putting off writing this “Final Thoughts” entry because this just means we are that much closer to the end of this chapter in our lives. However, I am working on coming to terms with it, and am confident that new adventures are right around the corner for me, and the rest of my Conserve family.

Gallery Photo 3As stated above, I walked into CS11 with a set of goals I hoped to accomplish during my time here. Long story short: I greatly surpassed these goals. Looking back at them, they all seem to be rather obvious to me considering each of these objectives ended up being part of my daily life here. I cannot recall a day where I didn’t feel myself being pushed out of my comfort zone to challenge and test myself. This is one thing I am most thankful for about my time here. Through these constant new experiences, I have witnessed so much self-growth. From my first backpacking trip, to a two-night solo, to testifying in front of my teachers and peers about the protection of Sylvania as designated wilderness area, I have noticed myself becoming more adventurous, outgoing, creative, and open-minded. The fact that I have had the opportunity to experience so many “firsts” throughout the semester is an endless blessing for me and I’m looking forward to applying the new skills I’ve learned to life in the real world.

Being an environmental steward is something I have always striven towards. One of the main reasons I came to Conserve in the first place was to learn more about stewardship in my own life, and advocating for environmental issues that I’m passionate about to others. DSC_0963My desire to live simply has only grown since I’ve gotten here. Thanks to my stewardship class and APES (Advanced Placement Environmental Studies), I have learned a lot about mindful consumerism and I’m looking forward to sharing this information with my family back home, so we can make some simple changes to our lifestyle. For example, I am more aware of where and how my food/clothes are produced, and these factors have greatly changed my outlook on shopping. In addition to my own lifestyle, I hope to help the people of my community make small changes to better the environment. My Taking Action Project was to create a composting system within my school so we can hopefully reduce the amount of food waste we produce in half. That is something I’m really looking forward to about returning home. On top of that, I have been contacting the superintendent of the Green Bay Public School System and we are now working together to provide every public school in our system with a composting system of their own. Though this part of the project is not fully developed, I am equally as excited to see how much progress we can make in our community as a whole.

My final objective in my set of goals was to form close relationships with the people and land around me. The word “close” does not begin to describe my connections with my surrounding here at Conserve. Though our campus is incredibly spacious, I feel at home while hiking, trail running, or exploring its many beauties. Gallery Photo 2One tool that really helped me gain this intimate relationship with our campus has been my camera. The power of photography is something that I have experienced for the first time while at Conserve. With the help of my photography class, I have learned to pay attention to the small details in nature, be more in tune with weather patterns, and appreciate natural beauty so much more. I have also learned to thrive off of the feeling of being powerless compared to Mother Nature. Her spontaneity inspires me to continue photographing, even when beauty isn’t the most evident. I never knew how important of a factor photography would be to me, and I’m lucky to have Jeff Rennicke as a teacher to instill this passion in me. This is another tool I will most definitely be bringing home with me. In addition to the amazing campus we live on, I am surrounded by the most beautiful collection of humans a person could ask for. My friends have taught me to enjoy life fully, and have inspired me with their genuine hearts. My classmates as a whole have offered endless support and love. Gallery Photo 1The teaching fellows have taught me about life and how to make my future a little less scary. My teachers have provided me with knowledge, passion, and ambition. Thanks to these people, my semester has been more than I could have ever hoped for. One of the hardest parts of leaving this amazing place will be having to leave my 62 brothers and sisters. Though social media makes it possible to keep in touch fairly well, and road trips are always a fun time, it will be hard to no longer live with the people that make me so happy. A close friend of mine shared a quote with me that I have found a lot of comfort in while thinking 15-11-18 Harvest Festival 90 Dressed Upabout leaving: “You will never feel completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.“(Miriam Adeney) Saying goodbye will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but getting to spend the past few months with these people has been the biggest blessing of my life. I am endlessly grateful for my Conserve family.

When thinking about the dreaded “F word” (the future), I am now much less frightened, and more than anything, excited about what’s to come. I have a few definite goals, but mostly just a big open mind about the next few steps in my life. I know for a fact that I will always prioritize my ability to conserve, protect, and appreciate our environment. Regardless of what career, or even college that I decide on, this will always be something that keeps me feeling fulfilled and content. Another one of my close friends shared some very helpful advice in response to me venting about finding the right career to pursue: “Recognize the topic that you are most passionate about. What fires you up? Base your career on the solution to that topic.” These few words have stuck with me all semester as the reassurance I need when worrying about the future. Though I don’t have the exact answer to everyone’s favorite question, “what do you want to do with your life,” I do know my future will focus on advocating for and educating people on environmental issues that I am passionate about. I am excited to see what kind of change I can make throughout my time on earth. Lastly, thanks to Exploration Week, I have discovered a new passion of mine is now backpacking. This is something I strongly hope to pursue when my time at Conserve is through, and have been looking into different guided backpacking trips that I could potentially participate in this summer. Through backpacking and photography, I know my love of the outdoors will never die. I hope to continue to challenge myself in both of these areas when I return home.

Though I still can’t fully wrap my head around the fact that Conserve is coming to an end, I am a better person because of it. CS11 is ready to go make some changes in our world. I’m anxious to see what amazing things we all go out and do. It’s time for us to “proceed on” (as Lewis and Clark so often stated they had to do) and use what we’ve learned here to improve the world for ourselves and for generations to come.

Thanks for all the memories CS11! Make it a great one everybody, bye for now!

~Maren A., Conserve School Semester 11

Temp CS11

Here are some additional photos taken by Maren during her 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 | November 30, 2015

“I Love This!” ~ Solo Camping

Amy R.~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS11 student Amy R. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Amy is from The Dalles, Oregon where she attends Horizon Christian School.~

“I Love This!”

Conserve School Learning Goal: After completing a semester at Conserve School, a student demonstrates the skills necessary to feel comfortable and confident in the outdoors, both alone and with others.

Before solos, I was pretty nervous. I had never been alone in the woods before and I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do everything that I would need to do. I had only started a fire by myself once, and this was the only source of heat I was going to have on solos. I was also slightly terrified of a ferocious bear meandering into my camp and that I would have to use my own strength to fight it off. With many crazy fears like this, I packed my bag and headed into the deep, dark woods.

When I was dropped off at my solo sight on Big Donahue Lake, I immediately set up my tent and my hammock. I explored my sight for a bit and took a few pictures. I had a great view of the lake and a bog. I collected some firewood and I decided to make an honest effort at getting a fire started. With the help of a fire starter, 12 matches,a lighter, and some birch bark, I was able to get a decent fire started. It took me a while to get the fire to the point where I didn’t have to constantly be throwing birch bark in, but I eventually got the hang of it. As I was heating up some water to make hot chocolate, I felt very accomplished with myself. I was able to start a fire by myself, stay warm, and have some nice hot chocolate. As the delicious drink warmed my hands, (and my stomach) I looked into the fire and thought of the amazing experience that I was having. I even exclaimed to the trees “I LOVE THIS!”

I thought of the friendships that I had made during my time here, I thought of all of the experiences I had had and how much I had changed since the first day I stepped on campus. I felt an amazing sense of peace as I looked into my fire. I was so excited that I was finally getting the opportunity to get out and explore, to get away from routine, and to refresh and cleanse my spirit. As it became dark, I put out my fire, put away my bear barrel, and slid into my warm sleeping bag. I took a little time to jot down my thoughts in my journal and then I finished the book “Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway. In this book, the old man talks about how he could “do anything if he wanted to badly enough.” As I was reading this, I thought about how I had made my fire, set up my tent, and how I was spending the night alone in the woods. Before coming to Conserve, I don’t think that I would have been able to do these things alone, but as I lay in my tent, my fears began to fade and I was able to clear my mind and reflect on my time, both past and future, at Conserve.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” – Helen Keller

~Amy R., Conserve School Semester 11

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: csdailyblog | November 16, 2015

Get Inspired Film Festival – CS11 Style

The Reel Role of Technology in Nature

(This blog entry is brought to you by Conserve School Teaching Fellow Paul Nicoletti.)

In a nation where most young people own smart phones, tablets, and laptops, it is no surprise that technology has a large impact on their lives and their perception of the outdoors. As technology becomes an everyday part of our lives, understanding our relationship with it will only become more important for our personal health and for the health of our planet. Here at Conserve School the students talk about this relationship during community meetings and on a day to day basis. We confront questions about when it is inappropriate to be on your phone, or what spending too much time on technology looks like.

We know that there is no single answer to this question and that everyone has a different relationship with technology. Understanding this relationship begins by acknowledging the amount of time we spend with it and then finding a balance in our daily lives. At Conserve School, we look for new and innovative ways that technology can become a solution to the very challenges it creates.

Recently, Conserve School held the first ever GIFF (Get Inspired Film Festival). These creative films have an important place in the new conservation movement. There is a broad array of outdoor films that are available for free on websites like YouTube and Vimeo. When you do some research you can find outdoor films with a broad variety of cultural, environmental and scientific significance. These are the kinds of films that use sweeping panoramic shots and 1st person views that when combined with the right music will send chills down your back. There are many different reasons to find these films inspiring. It might be the thought of following outdoor athletes around the world as a photojournalist, or finding a new location to plan an adventure, or picking a new role model to look up to. Regardless, these films can bring together communities and help young people find an interest in something they had never thought to try before. As we move forward and start to address questions about technology and its role in our lives, we must make conscious decisions to spend time away from technology. We should also start to think about how technology can inspire experiences in nature.

Use the links below to watch the same films that we showed last weekend! You will find some pictures from the event following the video links.

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: csdailyblog | November 14, 2015

Resident Calligrapher – Rain

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One of the things that makes Conserve School‘s community so great each semester is the unique mix of talents that students bring to the school. This semester Conserve School is fortunate to have had Rain share an exhibit of his calligraphy work.

Rain has been practicing calligraphy since he was six, and was specifically enlightened by a noted calligrapher, Zhang Zing who is from Qingdao, China. When Rain was nine, he dived even deeper into calligraphy and focused mainly on regular script; Li Shu (which is an ancient calligraphy used during the Han dynasty); Xing Shu (a cursive style of Chinese calligraphy or a “running script”). He also spent time learning seal cutting and Chinese painting.

Chinese calligraphy is a unique, exquisite style of visual art. With more than five thousand years of history, it recorded and witnessed all of the cultural changes. It is the root of many traditional Chinese arts and Chinese culture. Many people have been introduced to Chinese culture through calligraphy and Rain hopes that through his exhibit he can do his part to share the Chinese culture with more people.

Posted by: csdailyblog | November 9, 2015

Helen Creek Exploration

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This past Sunday a group of students and staff took up the challenge of resident Voyageur and Teaching Fellow Eleva Potter and headed out to explore Wisconsin’s Northwoods in a pair of 29′ Langley canoes from Clipper Canoes. The original plan was to explore some of the big lakes on the Cisco Chain. However, the strong winds that day made a more sheltered route preferable so the group started at the Helen Creek boat landing located on Highway B, about 7 miles from Conserve School. The 400 lb canoes were carefully moved from the trailer and into the water of Helen Creek.

15-11-08 Voyaguer 35

After everyone assumed their Voyageur names and personas the journey began. The first portion was relatively easy following the wide and sheltered Helen Creek. Then the canoes crossed Helen Lake where the wind whipped the lake up into small white caps. Once across the lake the canoes moved into the smaller feeder stream and battled their way up the narrow and curvy route until they ran out of time and needed to head for home. The stream was so narrow, that the 29′ canoes had to travel backwards for most of the return trip to Helen Lake. Once back on the lake the competitive nature of the group kicked in and the two canoes raced back to the put in spot.

At the end of the day it is safe to say that a good time truly was had by all!

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 | October 22, 2015

Going Solo

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Last week, every CS11 student participated in a solo camping experience, spending more than 40 hours and two nights camped alone on our Lowenwood campus. The solo experience is highly anticipated by students, yet challenges them to fully disconnect from the many distractions that fill our everyday lives, and embrace the “unknowns” of solitude, darkness, and extreme quiet. In some respects, students have been preparing all semester for the experience, learning and practicing camping skills in Outdoor Skills class and during Exploration Week, practicing keen observation during hours spent exploring the campus, and exploring the wonders of the dark during a night-time science class.

The solo experience began after Wednesday lunch, with students packing their food into bear vaults, before adding it to the packs that they prepared in the days before the event. Staff members then led students, in groups of six to 11, to their individual campsites on campus, to make camp, get settled, and begin their time alone. Staff members checked on students several times each day, without making direct contact, using either a system of bandanas tied to a tree near the campsite, or leaving notes for each other. In the event of urgent need, students had with them their cell phones, secured in a sealed and taped envelope, so that they could reach a staff member.

Over the course of the two-night experience, students read, worked on art projects, slept, journaled, and tended to the chores of camp, all the while practicing reflection. Student Morgan, in her e-portfolio, reflects on the value of her experience:

I can honestly say that I have never been actually and completely alone for such a long period of time until this experience. And, it was absolutely magical. Don’t get me wrong; I love people, socializing, and laughing with others, without a doubt. However, there is just something awe-inspiring when you get the opportunity to spend time with only yourself and the outdoors. The reflection time that I accomplished was a feat that could not have been done without the truest form of solitude. I was able to fully complete a Conserve School learning goal by observing my surroundings down to the smallest detail, and gaining a magnificent appreciation for the world around me because of those observations.

To my surprise, I never found myself bored. I found pleasure in things that I normally would not, and I filled my time with simple actions that brought a smile to my face. I journaled quite a bit. and I am extremely pleased with myself for doing so. I believe journaling is so important, and solos just reinforced this belief. I also did some artistic work whilst swaying in my hammock, which was unbelievably peaceful.
All in all, I am so overjoyed by the opportunity to participate in solos. Without this experience, I would have never developed my truest sense of self. It was truly a beautiful adventure, and it certainly will not be the last.
Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support
Posted by: Phil DeLong | October 8, 2015

Exploration Week

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Conserve School students and staff last week returned from their six-day, five-night backcountry camping experiences, which are collectively known as “Exploration Week”. These experiences not only serve as a laboratory for practicing the skills that the students have been learning in Outdoor Skills class, but create opportunities to enjoy intentional, extended time in the outdoors. Along the way, students nurture relationships with their peers, practice leadership skills, and revel in the beauty of the Northwoods. Each trip group consists of 6-10 students and two staff members, who together plan and prepare for the trip in the weeks leading up to their departure. Four of the groups paddled through the lakes of the neighboring Sylvania Wilderness, two of the groups backpacked the trails of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and two of the groups backpacked along the North Country National Scenic Trail in the Trap Hills of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Each of the groups enjoyed unseasonably warm and (mostly) dry weather, changing colors in the trees, and the “Supermoon” eclipse (most with unobstructed views from their canoes in the middle of a lake, or along the shore of Lake Superior, or from a vista in the Trap Hills). All would agree that Exploration Week is a wonderful way to spend a week of school, and that the lessons they learned are ones that will last a lifetime.

Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support

Posted by: Phil DeLong | September 21, 2015

Fall Triathlon

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This past Saturday morning dawned bright, cool, and crisp — a perfect morning for the 11th running of the Conserve School Semester Triathlon. Organized by History Teacher Michael Salat, the event affords students and staff the opportunity to test their fitness and their outdoor travel skills, while enjoying some of the land and water trails of our Lowenwood campus. Participants may choose to complete the race solo, or in a team of two or three. The event begins with participants paddling, either a canoe or kayak, around a marked course on Big Donahue Lake. After leaving the lake, racers hop on a bike to complete a six-kilometer ride on the blue trail, before dismounting to finish with a three-kilometer run of the green trail. Though tired from the exertion, racers crossed the finish line on Saturday with smiles on their faces, having enjoyed the challenge of the race, the beauty of a morning in the woods and on the water, and the comaraderie they experienced. As each racer crossed the line, the other racers cheered them on, celebrating their shared accomplishments. Now that’s what it’s all about . . .

(Thanks to Jeff Rennicke for sharing photos of the event.)

Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support

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At Conserve School we leverage our motivated students, our dedicated, creative teachers, our flexible, learner-centric schedule, and our rich outdoor environment to facilitate meaningful learning experiences for our students. When practical, teachers coordinate with each other to create interdisciplinary experiences for our students that amplify their learning, and echo what they’re learning in each class. Early this week, all students spent an entire afternoon paddling and portaging through five lakes in the neighboring Sylvania Wilderness, as part of a collaborative history and English lesson.

Students have spent the past couple of weeks in Michael Salat’s history class learning about the the Lewis and Clark expedition of discovery in the west, and enjoyed the opportunity to not only read about the Corps of Discovery’s critical portage of the Great Falls of the Missouri River, but experience just a bit of what that might have felt like. In Jeff Rennicke’s English class, Wilderness Voices, students have been considering the role that wilderness plays in American life, and used this week’s experience to consider that more deeply while immersed in wilderness. At different times during the afternoon lesson, the students and teachers would raft up their canoes on the lake, or stop along the shore of a lake, to read excerpts from the journals of Lewis and Clark. At other times, the students and teachers would stop to discuss the nature and value of wilderness, and consider the impact of human actions and decisions on the present and future of wild areas. I’m confident that the lessons of the day are ones that these students will never forget.

Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support

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