Esko students enjoying their new school forest

[anvplayer video=”5180324″ station=”998130″]

School is almost out for the summer. But students in Esko are enjoying being outside already, in their new school forest on Tuesday.

“I like the smells. And instead of being in the classroom, you get to be outside, and still with your friends,” shared Eli, a 3rd grader.

Esko’s is near the football field, and includes four trails on 30 acres.

It’s the youngest in the state, according to Steve Krueger, the school forest coordinator and 3rd grade teacher with the district. He has a passion for outdoor education, and wanted Esko to have a better place to foster that.

He said they became a certified school forest in October. It’s through the DNR’s School Forest Program.

“They help you create what’s called a stewardship plan. So you meet with them. You walk the land, they see what’s out here, they see what’s available. They help you kind of make a long term plan for how you want to nurture the land,” he explained.

Recently, the DNR donated 150 trees which have been planted across the forest.

On a breezy Tuesday morning, Krueger’s class sure enjoy being out there.

Brandon told us, “I like it. There’s a lot of wildlife. You can come out and enjoy the freedom and fresh air.”

His friend, Gianna, added, “It’s honestly amazing to get out of the classroom, for once, and go out and explore nature.”

And Josie told us it’s nice because there’s not as much noise.

Learning here can look a lot different, and Krueger likes to see students engage in ways they may not in the traditional classroom.

He’s proud of where the whole committee has gotten with the project.

“It’s a work in progress,” Krueger said. “A labor of love. We are excited to see how it grows and develops over the years.”

High school students are helping by making permanent signage and benches.

The community is welcome to enjoy the trails.