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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Conserve School

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Environment, Environmental Education, Secondary & High Schools

Mission: Conserve School inspires young people to environmental stewardship through academics and engagement with the forests, lakes, and wildlife of Lowenwood. Conserve School is a non-sectarian school aimed at students who feel a strong attachment to the natural world and who are motivated to conserve it. This semester-long immersion in environmental studies and outdoor activities deepens students’ love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. The program interweaves college-preparatory academics with: the study of environmental history, nature literature, and the science of conservation, environmental service work, exploration of careers related to conservation, training in teamwork and leadership, and engagement with the outdoors. Designed primarily for high school juniors, Conserve School incorporates the flexibility to accommodate advanced sophomores. Conserve School students become part of a community that heightens their sense of identity and self-worth and imparts the confidence they need to go forward and make a difference, not only as stewards of the environment, but also as stewards of their own destinies.

Results: Conserve School has positively impacted the lives of 100's of students from across the United States. Conserve School has been accredited by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), an accreditation division of AdvancED. Conserve School is a 2014 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Awardee.

Target demographics: high school sophomores and juniors

Direct beneficiaries per year: 120 students.

Geographic areas served: United States

Programs: a semester school for high school students designed to inspire them to become environmental stewards while spending a sixteen weeks living and learning on our 1200 acre wilderness campus.

Community Stories

106 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

15 Tara45

Client Served

Rating: 5

Most amazing experience a passionate high-schooler can have. The teachers are caring and friendly, the classes interesting and focused, and the community feel is so welcoming and kind. This school changed me from a regular girl into an energetic young adult full of life, and willing to devote that life to environmental protection, finding sustainable and creative solutions for problems, and caring so much about the natural world. I thank Conserve so much for giving me the time of my life; and I highly recommend this school to any youngster who cares about the environment, wants to make a difference, and loves the natural world.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Conserve School provided a life-changing, top-quality semester education for my high school student. The school was a careful steward of resources - both financial and natural resources.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We sent our son here for the Fall 2018 semester, and it honestly seems to have changed his life already. He calls frequently expressing his desire to do something important with his new knowledge, and just generally seems to be turning into a Real Adult (TM) in front of our eyes.

1 Tasha Randorf F.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter had the amazing opportunity to be part of the Conserve School. This experience for my daughter was wonderful. She left more confident and had a greater understanding of the importance of being a part of her community. She had a unique academic experience and learned so much about herself. Conserve will always have a special place in her heart, and I will always be appreciative of experiences that Conserve afforded her.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Conserve School is a great part of our Land O Lakes community. They sponsor several library events, partner with our local charter middle school, and they even opened up their wonderful facilities and grounds to help raise funds towards new playground equipment at the local elementary school. Their support is greatly appreciated!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a resident of Land O' Lakes, WI, I can attest to the fact that the Conserve School not only successfully carries out a valuable mission preparing young people to live by and promote environmental responsibility and activism, but also plays a tremendous role in supporting the community of Land O' Lakes in which it is located. Their support is financial as well as sharing their students to assist in many community activities. In addition, they host a variety of cultural and educational events that are available to the community.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son went to Conserve for a semester of his sophomore year and it changed his life and mine. The teaching staff is top notch. The facilities are excellent and the over all experience exceeded all of our expectations.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son's experience at Conserve School was second to none. It was a life shaping experience for him.

2 Peter W.2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have worked with former students of Conserve School, both in the college classroom, as a their professor, and in the work force, as their supervisor. They have been knowledgeable, thoughtful, dedicated, and optimistic. Conserve School prepared them well.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

3 teens, 3 Commissioned Conserve students, 3 semesters observing the Conserve School staff guide our children towards a greater understanding of their own capacity to lead and become their best selves in community, engage in a rigorous experiential learning academic environment, participate actively in eco-conservation strategies and to engage others to do so as well The Conserve School experience has prepared our 3 young adults, and hundreds of others, to be players of change in a fast paced, climate challenged world where the need to marry the competing needs of environmental stability and human survival presses upon us. A human and natural world powered education for our future leaders, indeed.

2 Kelly M.6

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our daughter has had a phenomenal learning experience at Conserve School unlike anything she has had in public school. Outdoor hands on learning has really resonated with her. She is excited about school everyday and wishes she could be here for the rest of her high school career.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

This semester school in the northwoods of WI was a magical experience for my daughter her junior year of high school. She is passionate about saving the planet, and a hard working student, so the staff and curriculum challenged her and helped her grow. The school opened her eyes to the need for and the many types of conservation. She made great friends, connected with staff, did awesome work, and “found her people.” I am so glad she had this amazing opportunity.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Conserve School changed my life and gave me the experiences that inspired me to get a career and education in natural resources! It’s a program I’d highly recommend to any student interested in natural resources, recreation, environmental justice, or a general love of the outdoors and adventure.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

We are absolutely thrilled that our daughter was able to experience a semester at Conserve School. What a wonderful opportunity to disconnect, convene with nature, and learn life skills that will take her into the future - all within a focused, rigorous academic environment. Her experience has made her prepared and determined to live her best life, and offer her best self to the world at large. I always knew she had it in her, but thanks to her experience at Conserve, now she know it too.

3 Taylor M.2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter had the honor of attending the C9 semester at Conserve. As I am sitting here, she is trekking in the Himalayas on a 45-day expedition with the Outward Bound School. She has been planning this trip for years, she worked for it, she saved her cash and she went. Then, she will be in Elche, Spain and Rome Italy for as long as her visa is valid. :)
I attribute the experience at the Conserve School, during her junior year of high school with instilling in her a confidence, and a thirst to go out and explore/learn about a new culture...and then do it! The Conserve School, with it's 1200+ acre campus of lakes and forest is the perfect fit for the experience-seeking 16 year olds! Apparently staring at a small device for hours isn't enough for everyone. The Admissions department is uncannily skilled at finding the greatest kids: nice, a little nerdy, kids that might not be getting that much recognition in their sending schools....but great artistic, creative kids, with so much talent and heart. Thanks to the guiding light, Stefan Anderson, and all the wonderful teachers at the Conserve School. What a wonderful LIFE gift they give every child that attends.

2 Calli B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Conserve School, a 1200 acre campus located in Land O Lakes Wisconsin is a place that I have learned to call home. I am lucky to call myself a CS 17 Student! Conserve School provides 60 students each semester with once in a lifetime opportunities. Classes, weekend activities, and special camping trips create the learning environment at Conserve. In addition to the Core classes of English, History, AP Environmental science, and Outdoor skills, Conserve School offers electives that help to keep students on track in their sending school while creating deep connections to the outdoors. Camping trips also create a love of the outdoors in students. Exploration week is a canoe or backpacking trip that is unique to Conserve and builds bonds between classmates. Finally, SOLOS! I came back from my three day solo experience only 3.5 hours ago. It was eye opening and an extremely relaxing opportunity. Conserve School provides many different opportunities to students at a relatively low cost. (My parents even did the math and were able to confirm that it is cheaper to have me live at Conserve than at home!) Conserve School has changed me for the better.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Short story:
Amazing state-of-the-art facilities.
Excellent faculty.
Wonderful integrative curriculum.
Outstanding balance of academic rigor and playful exploration.
Warm, caring, capable staff.
Perfect balance of supervised, safe boundaries and expansive pushing beyond comfort zones.
Healthful and delicious meal options (with professional management of allergen-safe protocols).
Magnificently magical forested setting. Expertly-designed, pedestrian-oriented, community-focused campus.
Well-organized and gracefully-shepherded application, enrollment and move-in process.
Abundant fitness, extracurricular, and field trip opportunities.
*Long story*: We first heard of Conserve School through a friend who applied for CS15. Shortly thereafter, we saw English teacher Jeff Rennicke's presentation at the 2017 Lake Superior Youth Symposium, where one of the symposium coordinators and a few of the symposium attendees were Conserve alumni. Meeting those folks sparked my then-9th grader's interest, so we made last-minute arrangements to attend a springtime Prospective Student Day. I hadn't done any research yet, so I had no idea what to expect--maybe a few cabins in the woods? Oh. My. Goodness! I was absolutely blown away by the brilliance of the campus, the faculty, the curriculum, and the community. I have homeschooled my son since the beginning, with the exception of a year at a tiny Waldorf-inspired preschool in our neighborhood. When I brought my reluctant son to his first day of preschool, I assured him I would only ever leave him with the very best folks. When I left the Conserve School Prospective Student Day, I felt 100% confident I could say the exact same thing now to my high schooler. As of October 7, 2018, my son is now seven weeks into CS17, having recently completed a five-day, 54-mile hike in the Trap Hills area of the North Country Trail for "Exploration Week" (the "hardest" of several trip options). Those hikers endured some really tough weather conditions, and still he returned glowing with enthusiasm. My spouse and I just returned from "Family Weekend," where we were able to tag along on Friday classes and enjoy fun activities and visits with our student and other kindred families over the weekend. I was so thrilled to see my son enjoying structured classwork and close connections with new friends. This place is an absolute gem, and the adjacent Sylvania Wilderness is like a mini Boundary Waters with the spirit of ancient forest. I cannot possibly convey the entirety of my gratitude for the staff's expert execution of the founder's hopeful and generous vision. It is obvious that they have put tremendous thought into every aspect of the experience, and they've had enough time to work out the kinks. The only potential drawback here is having to give up certain seasonal sports/clubs/activities (and sending-school friends/community) for four months while wholly focused on the Conserve experience. But it is, without doubt, a commitment worth making. The semester flies by quickly! My only constructive criticism is that much more racial diversity among the board and staff could go a long way toward attracting a more diverse student body, which would enrich the student experience and carry Conserve's mission farther. (Pretty sure the Adventure Gap is already on Conserve School's radar.) Scour the website, read up on the school's mission, review the Student Stories and Staff Stories, check out the virtual tour, and attend a Prospective Student Day if you're able.

1 lbull

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wish there were 10 stars to add! My son is attending Fall semester as I write this. He has told me on three separate occasions, Mom, this day was the best day of my life! So, apparently, the mountaintop experience has been surpassed a few times even. My son heard of the Conserve School program when he was in third or fourth grade, and has wanted to attend ever since. In his words, getting accepted and attending is a dream come true. Thank you to Jim Lowenstein, the founder and benefactor of the endowment that made this a reality for our family!! He has shared some of his academic work with me, and it is very rigorous. I appreciate the high standards of the academics. But the real payoff is seeing my son bloom and "find his tribe", and himself in the process. How could a parent ask for more?

1 Kristina M.3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a Guidance Counselor who has seen several of our students attend Conserve School, I have been so grateful for the unique and supportive educational environment that they provide. Students and faculty are brought together, learn deeply, and engage in the world and one another in a very different way. Students are inspired to do more and be more... and leave Conserve School with a passion for education and community involvement that inspires everyone around them.

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

A great place for students from all backgrounds to learn in the natural environment. I wish as a young man growing up in the inner city that I had this opportunity to attend Conserve School. This school should be the norm!!

Previous Stories
3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Had an opportunity to visit Conserve School to help partner to bring more diverse students to the school. The administration and faculty are the cream of the crop in terms of their professionalism and their efforts for students to reach their full potential. For anyone to buy into your efforts, you must love what you do and have a genuine care and focus for young people and their welfare. You cannot fake that because people(especially young people ) will see right through you. The individuals at Conserve School display this type of concern and professionalism. I wish I could of had a Conserve School when I was young. This is a place where young minds can learn in a different way....in green classrooms. Way to go Conserve School!!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As I write this, my daughter is actually spending the semester at Conserve School. She is thrilled with that school. The experience is so much more than just a semester school; it appears to be a profoundly positive one. I have never been worried for her safety there and everything there is top notch, including the educators.