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Individual Highlight

Scholars Program Welcomes Youth into the World of Nature

Photo of Northwoods Environmental Scholars group. Forest ServiceNorthwoods Environmental Scholars group. Forest ServiceSnapshot : Alleviating nature deficit disorder in the youth of Wisconsin's Northwoods

Principal Investigators(s) :
Zalesny, Ronald S., Jr. 
Research Location : Wisconsin's Northwoods
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2012
Highlight ID : 56


The Northwoods Environmental Scholars Program fosters awareness of science and natural resources in the youth of Wisconsin's Oneida County. Through supervised field projects, field trips, and classroom exercises, high school students learn about environmental conservation disciplines such as water quality and wildlife biology. The mentoring program consists of multiple field-based projects and a small-scale scientific study to highlight the power of observation and data collection.

Oneida County is known as the region of Wisconsin's Northwoods, Where nature lingered longer. Despite the county's nearly 560,000 acres of forest land and 1,100 lakes and streams, area youth follow the national trend of nature deficit disorder, gravitating away from outdoor experiences and towards a virtual, sedentary indoor reality.

The Northwoods Environmental Scholars Program is a partnership of the Forest Service's Rhinelander Laboratory, Rhinelander High School, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin, and Iowa State University. The program's long-term objectives are to provide high school students with outdoor experiences and opportunities related to science and natural resources, thus increasing environmental awareness and excitement among local youth.

The students take part in office, lab, and field investigations that discuss natural resource topics that include water quality, wildlife biology, phytotechnologies, renewable energy, energy crop production, climate change, silviculture, tree genetics, and entomology. When possible, they present their experiences at the Governor's High School Conference on the Environment that is organized by the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Additional Resources

Production ecology of Thuja occidentalis(publication)

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Iowa State University
  • Rhinelander High School
  • University of Wisconsin
  • University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources