Exploring Forest and Conservation Careers… in a Forest!
Why this Project Matters
In the next decade, one-third of the forest sector’s workforce is set to retire. Inspiring young people to pursue a green career pathway is critical, as our health and wellbeing ultimately depend upon the diversity of professions that maintain a healthy, productive, and sustainable natural world for us all. The forest and conservation sector has also failed to attract and retain Black American professionals, with a recent US Census Survey finding that less than three percent of foresters and conservation scientists identify as African American.
The Forest Exploration Center is located at the heart of the largest school district in the state of Wisconsin, serving 75,000 students across more than 150 schools. Many of these schools and students are located without access to greenspace and do not have sufficient funding to provide transportation for field trips. The Center is an important resource that allows Milwaukee students (54% of whom are African American) to connect with local forests, create positive outdoor experiences, learn about forest management, and discover future green career pathways.
How the Project connects schools to sustainable forests, builds forest literacy, and inspires green jobs
The Green Jobs trailside exhibit project is immersing Milwaukee students and educators in nature, inspiring stewardship, and demonstrating that forest careers are a rewarding, viable, and meaningful choice for students living in Wisconsin’s urban center.
The project will build upon Project Learning Tree’s (PLT) “Who Works In this Forest” activity from Green Jobs: Exploring Forest Careers and other forest literacy activities by creating engaging, hands-on exhibit stations along an accessible forest trail that highlights sustainable forestry and forest sector career pathways and professions. This will include a self-guided option to virtually meet those who work in and for forests through a multimedia experience visitors can access by QR code with their cell phone.
The one-mile loop of trail will provide meaningful recreation for all and support self-exploration and student discovery under the canopy of shaded woodland. Designed and built to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility guidelines for wheelchair, stroller, and foot traffic. Along the trail will be professionally designed interpretive exhibits meant to deepen understanding of the forest, including a unique series of 12 self-guided career exhibits and activities, as well as eight engaging, hands-on exhibit stations that highlight how to manage and monitor forest health.
SFI Implementation Committee network of local forestry professionals and forest organizations, creating a network of regional expertise and opportunities for green career networking. The Wisconsin PLT network is connecting the project to regional environmental education and PLT resources and programming.
This project includes state PLT and SFI Implementation Committee partners, as well as university and state natural resources agency professionals.
- Project lead: LEAF Wisconsin’s k12 Forestry Education Program
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative
- Project Learning Tree Wisconsin
- Wisconsin SFI implementation Committee
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry