SAF Chapter Resources: Environmental Education
November 18, 2019
Bringing Forestry to the Next Generation in Duluth, Minnesota
By Andrea Watts
In the article “Environmental Education: A Crucial Tool in Creating a More-Inclusive Profession,” in the March issue of The Forestry Source
, coauthors Jamie Dahl, Joanne Rebbeck, and Skylure Templeton outlined the need for environmental education and included an example of a program they had organized. To continue the discussion of environmental education and to highlight examples of programming that can be offered, in this column we are sharing how the Lake Superior SAF chapter organizes its Duluth 5th Grade Forestry Field Day event.
Origins of the Field Day
For 37 years, Duluth 5th graders have traded their classroom for a city park, where they spend a day learning about forestry from local forestry professionals. This year was Rachel Mason’s first time serving as coordinator of the field day; in her day job, she is the deputy land commissioner for Lake County. She inherited the title of field day coordinator from Nate Anderson, who served as coordinator for six years. In researching the history of the field day, Mason learned the Lake Superior SAF chapter modeled it after an existing program held in Carlton County, a neighboring county of St. Louis County where Duluth is located. State and local agencies and the timber industry provided support, and the students were from Duluth public, parochial, and private schools.
Although it’s not documented why the members started the field day, she guesses the reason was “because they thought it was important to teach kids about this to maintain forest management in the region, and that sentiment has continued.”
Fifth graders are the target age group because the original planning committee decided they were mature enough to understand the basic concepts of forestry and natural resources, Mason explained.
With a plan of a one-day program and nine teaching stations at three of Duluth’s city parks, Mason found that a member of the planning committee had described the field day “as a daunting undertaking at first.”