The LEAF Program has honored educator Brooke Tanck with a School Forest Award for her contributions to Sevastopol’s school forest, the Pioneer Ecological Reserve.
Tanck has led the initiative to rejuvenate the Sevastopol EcoLab property for the past few years. Each year, she reopens trails with a chain saw and trimmer, and she’s publicized the property to increase its use by the community and within the district as an outdoor learning space.
Tanck’s five-year plan for improvement and use is on track to continue. Tasks already accomplished include working with local naturalists to learn more about how teachers and students can make better use of the property, installing benches and a storage shed, developing and installing maps and signage to improve navigation, raising funds, organizing a boot drive with her students so that classes can use the property during wet conditions, writing articles about the property’s history and working with local businesses to build walkways over the wettest trails.
Tanck’s natural leadership and passion have rallied staff, community volunteers and students to give back to the community by making the EcoLab accessible once again to Sevastopol.
Wisconsin’s school-forest program was created more than 90 years ago to allow schools to own property for forestry programs and engage students in replanting forests. The program has grown and evolved, so today, more than 400 school forests exist to integrate environmental education into school curricula, provide experiential learning, 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 such as Tanck, community members and businesses, resource personnel, students and school administrators who support their school forests.
Tanck will receive the award during a ceremony on Sept. 23, 2 pm, at the school’s EcoLab (if the weather permits). The alternate site will be the school.