…an interdisciplinary college preparatory boarding school located on 1,200 acres of Wisconsin woodland boasting 22 miles of trails and eight lakes. Founded by James R. Lowenstine, The Conserve School in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin offers its students an integrated educational program that explores the wonders of nature using the sciences, literature and the arts.
Jeff Rennicke with student, Audrey Swannenberg
While in class last semester, Environmental Communications professor and award winning travel writer Jeff Rennicke played StoryCorps conversations to his students. The students were so excited that they accepted Mr. Rennicke’s challenge to organize the recording of their own StoryCorps interviews. The students immediately set about writing proposals, presenting them to the school, sorting out travel arrangements, and, eventually, coordinating our entire visit. Facilitators Rose Gorman and Brianna Hyneman spent 2 days at Conserve School this week participating in their Earth Day celebrations, recording stories, enjoying nature, and eating some surprisingly delicious lunchroom food. We were awed by the surroundings and incredibly moved by how much everyone involved loved and appreciated the school. People from the surrounding areas come regularly for lectures, workshops and shows. Local retirees chose to work at the school or volunteer their services. Like a small country town, everyone smiles, waves and says hello. Support staff, from security to chefs, take the time to talk and ask knowingly, “So how do you like our school?” Conserve School seems like more of a microcosm of an evolved global community than a boarding school. The student body represents over fourteen countries and those we spoke to praised the school for the sense of respect and responsibility to environment and community that it instills. Even some who admitted to being indifferent to school in general felt it necessary to succeed at Conserve School. They’re doing something really right up there in Land O’ Lakes and definitely it’s not just butter.
Also on hand for Earth Day celebrations was Jean Feraca, a Wisconsin Public Radio host and excutive Producer of Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders. Ms. Feraca broadcasted live from the school.