The Bjornson Education-Recreation Center is a 443 acre school forest owned by the School District of the Menomonie Area. The property was purchased in the early 1970’s from Ed Bjornson of the Spring Valley Lumber Company. Under the guidance of Dave Schiotz (Environmental Education Coordinator, 1971-96) the school district obtained matching grants through the Land and Water Conservation Department. For the past 33 years, the Bjornson Education-Recreation Center has allowed students of the Menomonie Area to experience the natural environment.
The property is a mix of northern hardwoods including maple, oak, ash, basswood, yellow and white birch), coniferous plantations (red and white pine, spruce) and stands of poplar. Hardwood ridges rise 250 feet above the valley floor. Several large springs form the headwaters of Hay Creek which flows east through the property.
Each year thousands of school children visit the school forest. All students grades K-8 attend fieldtrips to the forest, with many classrooms visiting 2 or 3 times each year. Many high school students attend as well through science, language, special education, and recreation classes. The Bjornson Education-Recreation Center is used by school groups throughout the year. The site is used daily during the fall and spring, and frequently during the winter and summer months. Recreational use by the community is also available. Activities such as hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and picnicking are encouraged. Hunting is not allowed at the school forest.
Facilities & Resources
The classroom is home to numerous mounts (small and large mammals, birds and fish), skins, bones, skulls, rocks and minerals, and other interesting finds from the woods. The classroom can comfortably fit as many as 75 people, and is used daily. The classroom is also used to store educational materials and equipment. We also have a garage to store large equipment (forestry tools, snowshoes, etc.), a bathroom building, and a picnic shelter at the classroom site. 1/4 mile into the forest is the school camp area.
The camping area has a picnic shelter/fire ring area, bathrooms, and six Adirondack sleeping shelters. Other educational resources include: A small pond where students can observe and explore aquatic habitats and lifecycles; a spring fed stream; a forestry trail with 12 tree species to identify; a geological study area which includes exposed bedrock, and several well maintained hiking trails.
Through exploration, and hands-on activities, our students learn about the natural environment. Activities used at the site are tied directly to state and local standards in Environmental Education. Common activities might include: exploration of life cycles, discovery hikes, animal adaptations, food chains, aquatic studies, forestry activities, geology activities, ecology lessons, survival skills development, orienteering activities, Project Wild, Project Learning Tree activities, etc. Stewardship projects (service learning activities) are also an important component of our education plan at the school forest. Students help with trail development and maintenance, stream work, bridge construction, shelter construction, and various forestry projects.
The Bjornson Education/Recreation Center has had an active forest management plan for almost 30 years. The forest management plan includes select hardwood cuts, pine plantation thinning, Aspen cuts, Oak regeneration, and Timber Stand Improvement Projects. Each year, students plant thousands of trees, conduct TSI projects, and collect acorns for the state nurseries. Forestry goals were developed by the Environmental Education Committee with assistance from the DNR foresters George Shepard, Jay Jordan, and Rob Strand. Since the 1980’s, all profits from timber sales have been used to support environmental education and the resources/facilities of the school forest.
A. (Old Valley Road) Go West on Hwy 29; turn right (North) on 280th Street (the first road past Hwy K). Go under I-94 and at the top of the hill, turn left on 672nd Avenue. Follow this road to 160th Street. Stay on 160th Street about _ mile, until it makes a sharp left turn, the Environmental Site driveway and sign is just before the left turn.
B. (Old Olson Road) Go West on Hwy 29, about one mile and past 280th Street. Turn right (North) on 238th Street. After a sharp “S” turn the road becomes 640th Avenue. Follow this road to the first right turn (160th Street) and go over I-94. You will go down a very steep hill. The road will make a sharp right; on your left is the Environmental Site sign and driveway.
From Menomonie West on Highway 12
Go West on Hwy 12 (past Fleet Farm) past Hwy K, Teegarden Cakes, and a small wayside. Turn left on 250th Street and follow this road to the top of a hill above I-94. Turn right on 672nd Avenue. Follow this road to 160th Street. Stay on 160th about _ mile until it makes a sharp left turn. The Environmental Site driveway and sign is just before the left turn.
Go West of Menomonie to Hwy Q (Knapp) Exit. Exit North on Q to 700 Avenue (the first crossroad North of I-94), turn right (east) on 700th Avenue and follow this road to 160th Street. Turn right on 160th. The Environmental Site driveway and sign is about one “block” ahead.