JUNE 2, 1997
Students from Marte Peet's 4th/5th grade Lockwood Elementary class learned about forest issues during Forest Field Day, a program that attempts to give kids a balanced perspective of timber lands management. Students were later asked to come up with a management plan for 200 acres of diverse woodlands that would include recreation, conservation, and payment of property taxes.
Photo courtesy of Northshore School District.
by Andrew Walgamott, staff reporter
Marte Peet's Lockwood Elementary fourth/fifth grade class is working on managing 200 acres of timberlands in the Cascade foothills. They are weighing recreation with forestry, and the need to pay off IRS and property taxes as part of Forest Field Day.
It's all part of a program to give children a balanced perspective on forestry and a look at forest management. Beginning in the classroom, students learn that they are about to inherit 200 acres of imaginary forest from their grandmother. In the program, the kids will inherit the land only after they come up with a five-year management plan.
Each child is assigned a role: a capitalist, a plant and wildlife activist, a recreationist, and a conservationist. Off the bat, the students know they have to deal with $80,000 in IRS inheritance taxes over the next three years, and $1,500 in property taxes a year. The students next brainstorm land use issues and what they can do with their property. Then it's off to the field.
Peet's class was among others that met recently at Tiger Mountain where they walked through a state forest where representatives from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, University of Washington, Department of Natural Resources and US Forest Service were on hand with information for the students. Students listened to talks on forestry, wildlife, water/soils and recreation/survival skills at stations in the forest. They collected data and took the information back to the classroom to put into a workbook scenario.
After their field trip, the students discovered that the timber on their grandmother's land was worth $17 million. The students then developed a forest management plan. Peet said that during the first day of forest plan deliberations, there had been a lot of arguing among her students. Overall, she said the kids were interested in recreation opportunities with one group proposing tower camps above the forest floor. Another group wanted big cars and were going to harvest their plots for the money.
Bob Brodie of Matheus Lumber Company in Woodinville, which participated in the event and contributed $500, says there are no right or wrong answers in what the kids come up with. "Some kids will clearcut. Some will save every tree, and neither are wrong," Brodie said. The rub, though, is in paying the property taxes on the parcel. Brodie said the approach was neither pro-environmental or pro-industrial. He said it was learning how to manage land.
Peet liked the program because it integrated social studies, math, and science. She said it was also a good way to connect urban kids with those from the suburbs and more rural areas. She said that program was an even-sided presentation of forestry. "I think it does a good job." She was also pleased with the educational aspect. "It's so much fun. [It's] one of those wonderful lessons where you show learning is fun."
Forest Field day began with the Hoo Hoo Club in Springfield, Oregon. The program has been a success in Oregon. This is its first year in the Seattle area. Matheus contributed $500 towards the program. The Hoo Hoo club is an industrial organization that was begun in the late 1800s.