Bringing Hands-on Learning to Little Falls Forestry Class

April 2015

Greening Brings Hands-on Learning to Little Falls Forestry Class

Great River Greening is working with the Agriculture and Natural Resources instructor at Little Falls High School to teach students the science of forest restoration, provide them the opportunity to contribute to their community, and be exposed to real job applications of their school work. See the video

Learning sustainable forestry and the tools

Every semester at Little Falls High School in Central MN, 25 students learn about sustainable forestry in an outdoor classroom. Great River Greening is partnering with the school to teach stewardship practices and talk about career options in resource management. Last year, class presentations and field work reached over 200 students. This year, engagement went a level deeper with the students adopting the park. Great River Greening ecologist, Steve Thomforde, worked with the teacher to identify the work, and provide ecological context and guidance.

“These students appreciate being outside and getting real-world, hands-on experience. This spring, they helped prep a site near the river for a prescribed burn by removing invasive species, and it gave them an opportunity to use chainsaws and learn about forest ecology.” -Instructor Doug Ploof.


Restoring Natural Beauty for Future Generations

By working with community youth throughout the project Great River Greening is laying the groundwork for future careers in the growing green jobs industries.

“Fifteen years ago, if you googled classes to learn about careers in natural resources, you might have found one. Today there are hundreds. This is viable work for young adults who want to remain living in rural areas.”

-Steve Thomforde, Great River Greening ecologist.

Hands-on learning sparks interest

Brenan, a senior at the school, is among many of the students that say learning the hands-on process of forest ecology has peaked their interest.

“Being outside and learning in the class has gotten me to think about this type of work. I could see working as DNR officer.” — Brenan, a Little Falls High School senior


Belle Prairie County Park is a rare tract of woodlands and prairie that includes oak savanna habitat with three state-listed rare plants. Only about one percent of the presettlement prairies in Minnesota still remain, making remnants like this one especially significant.

The project was made possible by the Initiative Foundation.