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2017 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

91 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

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.

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.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Conserve School is such an amazing and life changing opportunity for high schoolers. It brings together people passionate about the environment in a variety of different ways. And then bonds them within a community that's completely new, but by the end is like family. It gives students an opportunity to advance their learning and understanding of the natural world. And provides experiences that are unparalleled for many of the students that attend because of the low cost compared to other semester schools. Without Conserve I wouldn't be the same, I wouldn't have such a passion to make the world better, I wouldn't be so confident, and I wouldn't have such a bond with nature or my Conserve family. Not many places can take a group of teenagers from all over and help them expand and form their voice and passions.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

A truly amazing and life changing opportunity for high schoolers

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Conserve School fully lives its mission. It is a life changing semester school, creating inspired learners, environmental stewards, and deep friendships. Our son is a CS16 alum and we are so thankful for the opportunitiy of the Conserve School experience.

1 NolaCAR

Donor

Rating: 5

Conserve School does an incredible job of immersing students in nature while completing a junior year high school semester course load. The alumni I have met tell me that it's a life-changing experience and one of the best, if not the best, experiences they had during their high school careers.

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Conserve School was life-changing for my daughter. She ended up writing one of her college admissions essays about the sense of community she found there. I am so grateful she had this opportunity and would wholeheartedly recommend it to prospective families.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wish I could add another star to the five star rating cuz I'd give it six stars or more!! Conserve school is by far hands down an exceptional learning experience.. they nurture and truely care for the children, they have an excellent staff that truly cares about the students as they grow to be self reliant young adults. The facilities are top-notch and the bonus is the Outdoor Learning environment. It definitely had a very positive and lasting effect on our son as he ventured on his path toward adulthood while he attended Conserve. I would have no qualms about recommending Conserve to any future student interested in the Outdoor Environmental Learning experience.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Attending semester 14 was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I left with incredible friendships, positive relationships formed with teachers and other adults, lots of love I had developed for the campus, and a commitment to being an environmental steward. This experience is like no other, I could not be more grateful I found out about it. Conserve School will be somewhere I hold dearly in my heart for many years to come. I hope many other students continue to be able to have this extraordinary experience.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The fact that this experience was open to our daughter through the financial gifts and commitment of the board to keeping it financially accessible to all students continues to astound me. We are grateful that she was able to be part of this beautiful learning environment that nurtured her spirit, mind, and body in community! Looking for ways the school can take bold steps toward reflecting demographics of young people and growing diversity. Love is school and vision and opportunity!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Conserve School is an amazing school. Our daughter is currently attending semester 15. It is the best school I have ever been to and I have been teaching 25 years in four different states. She is growing as a student and more important as a person. She is learning to be independent and gaining confidence and learning self reliance. And most important she is learning to appreciate and care for our home, planet Earth.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter arrived at Conserve School as a shy, insecure teen. Over the course of 4 months, she had transformed into a confident young woman. Conserve gave her room to grow and find herself, and the support she needed along the way. The teachers and classes are top notch, but the education goes far beyond the classroom. Conserve School provides a transformative, life-changing experience for a that can be found nowhere else. Best decision that we ever made for our daughter.

1 Erin S.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Conserve School is the place to be if you are a young person who is passionate about nature. It is a stepping atom to success!

1 Anika B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This school honestly changed my life. In highschool, I just wanted to go to boarding school for a bit, I really was not that in to nature. The thought-provoking classes and caring community swiftly crafted me into a true environmentalist and outdoors-woman for life. I had an "a-ha" moment in the AP enviro class that made me realize I was lucky enough to have the chance to learn about the environmental problems that effect literally every living thing on the planet, and that it is my duty to improve these conditions. I am incredibly devoted to the outdoors now, it is the only thing I do with my free time anymore. I can genuinely say that connecting to nature and community at conserve school changed the course of my life and made me a happier version of myself than I think I could have achieved at a regular school.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We just spent the weekend visiting our daughter at Conserve School. It is an absolutely amazing gem. It nurtures dynamic, caring young people who are passionate about the environment, with excellent teachers and a well-run, responsive, and friendly administration. And the setting is just gorgeous. It will have a lasting impact on all of the students, and so will undoubtedly impact our world.

1 September E.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter was fortunate to be a part of CS5 the fall of 2012, and we are both truly grateful to Conserve School and the staff for this opportunity. Please feel free to read about Tessa's experience: http://www.westfargopioneer.com/news/439576-fostering-passion-protecting-environment-chambers-attends-conserve-school

Tessa is currently a junior attending Swarthmore College. Thank you Conserve School!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was lucky enough to spend the weekend at Conserve School for parents weekend. I was able to shadow classes and the way that the staff interacted with students was so impressive to me. It's clear that they see these students as able learners, worthy of respect. Clearly the students think that of the teachers as well. It took a lot for me to leave my child here, and they acknowledged that and have done such a wonderful job in not only teaching, but inspiring the students to see themselves as capable of so much more than they may have possibly been awarded in their home schools. I know my child looks at this experience as a true blessing and after being there for the weekend, I can't imagine a better place to spend time learning about nature, conservation - and a little bit more about oneself along the way. What an amazing experience!

2 Samantha D.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Great opprotunity! I was a student during CS1. I constantly talk about my time at Conserve and that was over 5 years ago that I attended during high school. This school has an amazing purpose and culivates community. The environmental focus is awesome and very enlightening. The school and students work hard to promote sustainbilty in all aspects. The impact this non profit has on it’s students and the environment is immeasurable. I will keep the experiences and knowledge and relationships I created here for the rest of my life. I will continue to cultivate the same environmental values and principles in my life and persue to educate others.