One of the unique traditions and opportunities the Manitowoc Public School District (MPSD) offers students is the chance to learn about the environment in our 293-acre Rahr Memorial School Forest.
MPSD and Rahr Memorial School Forest have a long history of providing quality outdoor education to children of all ages.
Did you know that MPSD owns nearly 300 acres just north of the Point Beach State Forest? The Rahr Memorial School Forest is along the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan and has been an outdoor educational facility for more than 60 years. Last year, the school forest was visited by 9,554 students and adults.
Tradition began 68 years ago
The idea of creating a school forest took root in 1950 when a group of fifth- and sixth-grade students from Manitowoc’s Madison Elementary School planted trees in Silver Creek Park. In 1951, the students planted 3,500 pine seedlings at Point Beach State Forest, just south of where the school forest is today.
Eugene Krejcarek, then-principal of Madison School, realized students were so enthusiastic about tree planting and spending time learning outside that he envisioned an opportunity for students to expand their knowledge of nature, and the idea of the school forest was born.
In 1955, a 40-acre tract of land was purchased for $2,000. Shortly thereafter, a 65-acre tract of land with one-quarter mile of Lake Michigan frontage was purchased for $5,000. The funds for both purchases came from the generous gifts by the Rahr Foundation. Both properties were dedicated as the Rahr Memorial School Forest on May 1, 1955.
To this day, fifth-graders from the district visit the forest in the spring and plant trees on the school forest property, continuing the tradition started 68 years ago. Students last year planted 1,200 trees of 12 varieties — red pine, jack pine, white pine, red oak, black spruce, white spruce, aspen, river birch, black cherry, bur oak, red osier dogwood and silky dogwood.
Today, five structures provide classroom space, housing and storage for the MPSD school community to maximize the learning experience for MPSD students and staff.
Another tradition that all MPSD sixth-grade students cherish is the opportunity to spend three days and two nights at the forest. Students engage in teamwork, environmental science studies, human survival and fun.
Visit http://bit.ly/MPSD-Forest to learn more about the School Forest curriculum, service projects, and district and external groups who benefit from the forest.