PITTSVILLE -- Already possessing great interest in and knowledge of the forest, Liana Oleson saw a chance to donate time to her former school district as a great opportunity.
Now she is being recognized for the generosity to the Pittsville School District's school forest program.
Oleson received a 2010 School Forest Award from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point's LEAF Program, a K-12 forest education partnership with the Department of Natural Resources that provides materials to schools about forest learning.
She is a member of Pittsville School District's School Forest Committee, which has created an education plan for all the district's grade levels to push the concept of teachers taking students to the forest as part of their curriculum.
"I was interested in helping do something with our school forest," said Oleson, who works in wood supply at local papermaker NewPage. "When I was in high school, we utilized the forest, but now we haven't for years."
Art teacher and fellow School Forest Committee member Kris Doering said Oleson played an integral role in revitalizing use of the school forestland.
"Her knowledge of the forest is very helpful at the committee meetings," Doering said. "She put a lot of hours in that educational plan."
The forest, which is about 140 acres, is near Highway 80 between Pittsville and Babcock. It's about a nine-mile bus trip for students, Doering said.
"It wasn't being utilized for quite a few years, so it was either, 'Do something with it, or get rid of it,'" Doering said. "There are so many activities you can incorporate into the curriculum at the school forest. Learning and knowledge only goes so much in the four walls in the building; I think it's great to extend it into the school forest."
The School Forest Committee successfully earned a $5,000 grant from the Wisconsin Environmental Education board to help develop the curriculum. Now, committee members plan to apply for another grant of up to $30,000 to build a small facility so teachers can use the site in inclement weather.
"Students are very excited to get outside," Doering said. "You can change the setting, change things up with education and keep students in tune about learning."