DNR Forester presented with school forest award
FOR THE GAZETTE
AMHERST — Jeff Nyquist, a forester with the Department of Natural Resources, has been recognized with a School Forest Award by the LEAF Program for his contributions to the Tomorrow River School Forests.
After the July of 2019 derecho storm wreaked havoc on the Tomorrow River School District’s Lake Emily Road School Forest, Jeff worked quickly with Agriculture teacher Rachel Ziegler in guiding the school district through timber-salvaging efforts. The following two years Jeff continued planning and organizing site preparation efforts with Rachel for replanting. Finally in 2022 Jeff coordinated with Rachel and the DNR Nursery to plant trees on the property. Students from Rachel’s class spent two days both machine and hand planting roughly 25 acres of the school forest. Jeff is committed to working with Rachel and DNR Reforestation Specialist Jeremiah Auer in monitoring and re-planting efforts until the site is adequately stocked.
In addition to helping with the school forests Jeff also provides hands on field experiences with Rachel’s students. Jeff visited all three of the school’s forests with Rachel’s students explaining their makeup and next management steps for each site. In addition, Jeff brought in the equipment used in his forestry profession to demonstrate this career path. Rachel’s students have enjoyed his expertise and help in the forests.
Wisconsin’s school forest program was created more than 90 years ago to allow schools to own property for forestry programs. The primary focus was to engage students in replanting our forests. Since those early days, the program has grown and evolved considerably due to the efforts of many individuals and organizations. Today over 400 school forests are available to integrate environmental education into schools’ curriculum, provide experiential learning for students, teachers, and the public, meet state-mandated education standards, demonstrate sustainable natural resource management, strengthen school-community partnerships, and provide income for education activities.
The current strength of the school forest program would not have been possible without contributions from educators, community members, resource personnel, students, and school administrators that help their school forests reach new heights. The award was presented to Jeff at the Tomorrow River School Forest – Lutz Property on May 4.
For more information about the School Forest Awards or the statewide school forest program, contact Gretchen Marshall, Wisconsin School Forest Coordinator, at (715) 346-2633 or [email protected] or visit www.leafprogram.org.