Isle Royale National Park is located on a rugged, isolated island surrounded by Lake Superior. At the corner of Michigan’s upper peninsula, Isle Royale offers opportunities for reflection amidst the scenic beauty and quiet solitude of a place virtually untouched by humans.

The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin helped fund a trip for seventh graders from Phillips Middle School to Isle Royale through the Teachers’ Outdoor Environmental Education Fund. The trip is jointly offered by the Renewable World Foundation and the National Park Service as part of the Isle Royale Education Program.

The long ferry ride, getting out of the classroom, and the opportunity to go back to Isle Royale as mentors to first-time visitors are some reasons why students enjoy the IREP trip, according to Aneta Rietveld from Renewable World Foundation (RWF).

Last September, 25 students selected through an application process first met RWF staff at Clam Dam in Danbury, Wisconsin. They went on a tour of the hydroelectric dam and collected equipment for the days to come. Students also learned how to use solar panels and a generator to energize cameras to document their trip. The next day, students bussed to Grand Portage, Minnesota, where they took a ferry to Isle Royale.

Isle Royale Education Program (IREP) students participate in classes on renewable energy, environmental stewardship, earth science and history. RWF staff teach the basics of water filtering, camping, outdoor cooking and leave-no-trace ethics—how to visit wilderness with minimal impact on the landscape. Students also learn about animal and plant life, geology, history and renewable resources present on Isle Royale. On-site programs and hands-on activities allow the students to learn about the interconnection of natural and human systems and the importance of national parks.

“If [students] don’t realize why National Parks and wild lands are out there while they are young,” Rietveld said, “they will never think to use them or protect them when they are older and the country will lose some of its best features.”

The goal of IREP is to expose middle school students to a wilderness that is virtually untouched. Students are asked to live on and hike the island leaving no trace that they were present so others can have the same natural experience.

By contributing to Isle Royale’s continuous beauty through preserving what they see, students gain more of an appreciation for nature. IREP allows them to experience what life is like without access to businesses or technology. The students came back with a tangible understanding of conservation that they hopefully can mimic in their own lives.

Blog contributed by Phillips Middle School with additional reporting by Hibah Ansari

The Wonders of Africa

In October 2020, we will be traveling from Zimbabwe to Zambia to Botswana, experiencing their movie-like landscapes and what makes them unique to Africa.

2020 Bird Protection Fund Projects

The Bird Protection Fund has decided upon its 2020 Priority Projects, with more than $60,000 going towards priority bird conservation projects that range from research to reintroduction efforts.

2018 Photo Contest Winners

Every year you send us your best photos that capture incredible moments from our Field Trips. Our 2018 Photo Contest winners give us an inside look into the unique experiences and critical conservation being done throughout the year – take a look!

Exploring the Canyonlands of the Southwest

The southwest is home to some of America’s most iconic landscapes, as well as several stunning national parks. In March 2020, we will be travelling to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Monument Valley Navajo Park with professional naturalist Paul Regnier and professional geologist Dr. Roger Kuhns.

NRF board member Bill Smith named to Natural Resources Board

NRF board member Bill Smith has recently been appointed to the Natural Resources Board (NRB), the governing body of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Hundreds of ‘Birdathonners’ Raise Funds for Bird Conservation Efforts in Wisconsin

The Great Wisconsin Birdathon is one of the most popular “bird-a-thon” style fundraisers in the nation, bringing in over $400,000 since it was created in 2012 to raise funds for bird protection efforts for Wisconsin birds.

A Walk Through Time and Hemlocks

All of this beautiful snow here in Madison reminds me of a winter trip I took to northern Wisconsin, when I had the opportunity to explore a new place: Germain Hemlocks State Natural Area in Oneida County.

Grant from REI makes a deep impact at Wisconsin’s beloved Devil’s Lake State Park

Devil’s Lake State Park is one of the most highly visited and cherished public properties in Wisconsin. Funding from REI was used to complete critical restoration activities.

NRF co-founder retires from board after more than 30 years

Ron Semmann helped create the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin while working at the Department of Natural Resources in 1986 and has served on the Board ever since. Ron is now ready to enjoy a much-deserved retirement and offers this message to all NRF members, partners, staff, and board.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in conservation

It is vitally and increasingly important to consider diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in our changing world. According to data from the 2010 U.S. Census, more than 25 percent of children in Wisconsin are people of color. That means the future of conservation depends upon making conservation relevant and meaningful to all Wisconsinites.