SFI Is Helping Teachers in the U.S. Great Lakes Region Connect Students to the Natural World

Trees For Tomorrow 2018 Teacher Workshop Series
Why this project matters
Trees for Tomorrow, an accredited natural resources specialty school, is located in a beautiful outdoor classroom better known as the Northwoods in Eagle River, Wisconsin. The school is inviting teachers from U.S. states bordering the Great Lakes to take part in a four-day course to increase their understanding of sustainability and responsible resource management. The teachers will also learn how to implement these principles in their classroom curriculum. Exposing teachers to responsible forestry, and the importance of forest lands to wildlife, the economy and our daily quality of life, has the potential to encourage these teachers to inspire students to pursue rewarding careers in forestry.
This project serves to connect youth to forests through increasing teacher knowledge and developing more techniques for instruction of students from kindergarten through high school. Teachers will be better equipped to facilitate their students’ learning about local ecology, inspire a curiosity in them to explore and better understand the natural world, and come up with more questions to explore.
The workshop curriculum follows and incorporates education standards set by the U.S. Department of Education following Next Generation Science Standards. The intent is to instill more confidence in teachers to incorporate sustainability and outdoor learning into their classrooms. The idea is not just to make teachers into better teachers, but to give them the tools to incorporate sustainability education into their students’ experiences, and in turn make those experiences more fulfilling.
Why is SFI involved?
SFI values this project because it will help teachers inspire youth to better understand responsible resource management and potentially encourage them to pursue a career in sustainable management of our forests. Offering students a positive career path also has the potential to encourage these students to see a future for themselves in the rural communities of their home states.
One of SFI’s priorities is to connect youth to forests through education. We look for ways to instill a lifelong appreciation for the value forests represent for biodiversity, the wider environment, sustainable communities, responsibly sourced forest products and for our shared quality of life. The educational focus of this project also supports SFI’s focus on encouraging the next generation of future forest leaders.
Our work with Boy Scouts of America and other youth organizations and school programs like Project Learning Tree, an SFI program, and Earth Rangers, helps build healthy kids. It also engages youth in conservation activities and outdoor education.
How the project builds SFI community engagement
Trees for Tomorrow will bring 30 teachers together from across eight U.S. states bordering the Great Lakes. This diverse community of teachers is drawn from small rural communities, towns, cities and underserved urban areas. Their coursework will give them the tools to spread the message, across a range of Great Lakes communities, that well-managed forests are good for people and the environment.
Trees for Tomorrow also provides ways for the teachers to collaborate online and in person after they finish the four-day course. The Wisconsin SFI Implementation Committee is supporting the teachers’ attendance and participation in the National Science Teachers Association regional conference in Milwaukee in November 2018. At this conference, the Trees for Tomorrow Project Director will present program outcomes and expectations for future course development.
This partnership includes educators, academics and forestry professionals.
  • Project lead: Trees For Tomorrow
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative
  • Wisconsin SFI Implementation Committee
  • Viterbo University
  • Project Learning Tree — Wisconsin
Related information
  • The Wisconsin SFI Implementation Committee provides high school scholarships for students to learn about responsible forestry through Trees for Tomorrow.
  • The Wisconsin SFI Implementation Committee helped Trees for Tomorrow install signs on an interpretive trail.
  • Project Learning Tree, an SFI program, is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12.
About Trees for Tomorrow
Trees For Tomorrow is a nonprofit natural resources specialty school on over 30 forested acres in Eagle River, Wisconsin. Trees For Tomorrow uses a combination of field and classroom studies to teach sustainable practices as well as demonstrate the benefits of contemporary resource management. Trees for Tomorrow promotes sustainable management of natural resources through transformative educational experiences. Its field-based programs, which place people in direct contact with resources that support human needs, teach knowledge and skills leading to responsible lifestyle choices. This experience inspires informed participation in policymaking and promotes stewardship and renewal of natural resources for use by future generations.