Merrill School Forest benefactor presented Wisconsin School Forest Award
Jack Lussier has been recognized with a School Forest Award by the LEAF Program for his contributions to the Nels P. Evjue School Forest registered to the Merrill Area Public School District.
Seventy one years ago, over 700 acres of land was donated to the Merrill High School in memory of Jack’s grandfather Nels P Evjue. Jack’s continued commitment to his Grandpa’s woods has allowed this family legacy to thrive, allowed it to become one of the leading school forest programs in Wisconsin, and serves as an icon in the community. His friendship, generosity, and overall passion for this school forest is evident in the relationships he maintains within the Merrill community and the high quality educational experiences students are able to have at the school forest. Jack’s enthusiasm has flowed through the programming and is reflected back by the memories students share, the knowledge they have gained, and the stories they tell about their day at the school forest. He truly enjoys seeing students learning, playing, and creating in his “Grandpa’s woods.” Jack, your grandpa would be proud of the way you’ve continued his legacy.
Wisconsin’s school forest program was created more than 80 years ago to allow schools to own property for forestry programs. The primary focus was to engage students in replanting our forests. Since those early days, the program has grown and evolved considerably due to the efforts of many individuals and organizations. Today over 400 school forests are available to integrate environmental education into schools’ curriculum, provide experiential learning for students, teachers, and the public, 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 be possible without contributions from community members like Jack, educators, resource personnel, students, and school administrators that help their school forests “reach new heights.” The award was presented to Jack during a small ceremony at the Nels P Evjue School Forest in May. He will also be recognized at a Celebration of Excellence in Environmental Education Banquet later this Fall in which outstanding leaders of environmental education in our schools and communities throughout Wisconsin will be honored.