Hello Forest County!
As I was going through the agricultural and forestry artifacts that the Forest County Museum I came across a booklet entitled “Annual Report of the County Agricultural Agent in Forest County Wisconsin 1928”. On several of the pages there are notes from the Forest County Land Council, which organized on February 11, 1928. The group was put together to create a balanced program of forestry, agriculture, and recreation. They were a group of business men with ties to not only farming but logging, milling, and resorts so that all areas of the county could prosper. One of their initiatives was to create three school forests in Crandon, Laona, and Wabeno made up of a total of 160 acres. This was a revolutionary idea, Forest County is the home of the first school forests in the United States. The Land Council came upon this idea with the help of H. L. Russell, Dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Russell had seen Australian children planting trees on public tracts of land and believed the practice could be adopted in Wisconsin. Forest County was in desperate need of reforestation after fifty years of heavy logging that had stripped the land ( https://environment.madison.k12.wi.us/forest/edwischf.htm).
The Dedication ceremonies for the school forests were held on April 26th and 27th with H.L. Russell, John Callahan, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and W. McNeel, State Leader of the Junior Forest Rangers giving the speeches. The school children planted 83,700 Norway and White Pine seedlings with 2,400 of the seeds being planted on farms as a demonstration tool and the rest being deposited in the school forests (Annual Report, 1928). The school forests of Forest County are still being used today as an unique teaching tool for students.