CS15 Stewardship Activity Day
Wilderness Teaching Fellow, Emily Hayne

This semester we have one academic day, Stewardship Activity Day, designated to Environmental Stewardship so that students may critically evaluate their roles within the Conserve School community. Reiterating systems thinking, students look out how advocacy can impact their social and ecological communities on campus.

CS15 students, in order to give back to Conserve School and Lowenwood, developed class Taking Action Projects by identifying goals, contacting staff for support and guidance, and practicing organization, communication, and leadership. The Environmental Stewardship teachers wanted the student groups to take ownership of their projects as students we mostly self-lead in planning their projects. The teachers facilitated discussion in class on how students can overcome challenges and barriers in regards to project planning, how to respectfully contact community members about project ideas, and how each student's advocacy styles can complement other people's styles of advocacy for cooperative teamwork.

There are six Environmental Stewardship classes this semester and each one selected a project to give back to the community. The projects students worked on include: making a vegan lunch for the community, mapping the single track trails on Lowenwood, developing a portage trail between Big Donahue Lake and Black Oak Lake, repairing and installing bat houses, creating signs for the garden on campus, and planting edible plants in the academic building.

Vegan Lunch-- What a treat!

This class wanted to share delicious vegan dishes with peers and staff at Conserve School. After spending the morning in the kitchen cutting vegetables and fruits, roasting potatoes, and stirring lentils in a curry and coconut sauce the Conserve School community was served a vegan lunch. This class wanted to share with the community that vegan meals can be healthy and satisfying all while reducing the impact on the environment in comparison to diets that use animal products. These students are looking forward to sharing recipes with their peers and incorporating other vegan meals in the dining room throughout the semester.

Mapping the Single Track Trails on Lowenwood

Wanting to update our Lowenwood maps, this class of students decided to route the single track trails on campus. These single track trails are frequently used for recreating on campus, including biking, walking, running skiing and snowshoeing but can be intimidating to learn without the proper tool of a map. Therefore, this class focused on making a map that can be used by students, staff and visitors to Lowenwood. Starting off the day, students took to the trails in pairs, via bike and on foot. As they followed the paths, they used GPS tracking on their phones to map their routes. By the end of the day, this class created a map of the single track trails on campus, detailing difficulty of the trails and length of the trails in miles. This class hopes to continue the work on mapping trails and making signs to mark single track trails on campus.

Developing a Portage Trail Between Big Donahue and Black Oak Lake

In History class students learned how to sustainably develop trails that are respectful of the landscape by considering soil erosion and disturbance of tree roots. For Stewardship Activity Day, one class worked on developing a trail between two of the lakes used by Conserve School students and staff. This will make the lakes and the Lowenwood Lodge more accessible for people exploring campus by canoe. After survey the land between the lakes, this class took flags to mark the route of the trail. Then with tools, students began developing the trail, removing branches and dirt to form the curving route from Big Donahue Lake to Black Oak Lake.

Repairing and Installing Bat Houses

After guest speaker Licia Johnson visited Conserve School to share about bats in Wisconsin, this group of students thought that one way they could support the conservation of bats in the area is by installing bat houses on campus. For the day, students refurbished old, unused bat houses, washing, sanding and painting the bat houses. Students also were able to work on identify places the houses can be mounted so that bats would have access to water and sunlight as well as protection from predators.

Creating Signs for the Garden on Campus

This group of students made signs for the Hugelkultur garden, butterfly garden and student garden beds. Additional signs stating, "Help Yourself" indicate the beds that are best for sampling delicious herbs and produce from the garden. Using their artistic skills, this group of students sanded pieces of wood, drilled together signs to a post and painted colorful labels that will help visitors to navigate the garden.

Planting Edible Plants in the Academic Building

With winter drawing near, this class identified the issue with having a limited growing season of plants in the Northwoods. In order to provide more opportunities for students to work with plants, this class organized an indoor garden in the gathering space of the academic building. Rosemary, oregano, and basil are several of the plants that are now accessible to the Conserve School community to responsibly sample. Beautifying this space, students used watercolor painting to create plant labels and remind consumers of the plants to be mindful that the plants for for the use of the community. In order to maintain the health of the plants, this class will be hosting a garden club for other students to join to help with basic care such as watering.

* Read a "student story" about this TAP

Today was a successful day of hard-work, team cooperation, overcoming barriers, and problem solving all while giving back to the Conserve School community. Environmental Stewardship class provides students the opportunity to identify their skills and interests, explore forms of advocacy and stewardship, and consider how their education at Conserve School can be the building blocks of future projects and plans to promote the wellbeing of the Earth. According to Wangari Maathai, an environmental political activist and Nobel laureate from Kenya, "Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it." CS15 students did an incredible job considering the needs of the social and ecological communities of Conserve School and made appropriate steps to plan, organize and implement their projects on Stewardship Activity Day.

Additionally, each class of students extended their thanks and appreciation to the staff members who were so flexible and helpful in developing their projects including Mike Saad and the Maintenance Team, Scott McFarland and the Dining Staff, Jean Haack, Stefan Anderson, Michael Salat, Robert Eady, Nancy Schwartz, Eleva Potter and Emily Hayne. Additional shout-out to Environmental Stewardship teachers Emma Velis, Hannah Barg, Peter Kraus, Rachael Button, Shelby Roback, and Tim Mateer for supporting their students in the development of these stewardship projects.