The History of the Forest Education & Awareness Program (FEAP)...

FEAP began in 2004 as an initiative of the Land Commissioner and County Commissioners’ in Itasca County, MN.  They desired to more broadly bring education and awareness about the northern Minnesota forest to students, citizens and visitors.  To accomplish this, it was recognized that there was a need to bridge the gap between practicing foresters’ knowledge and professional educator’s skills in order to more effectively reach citizens young and old.  Doing so required a strong partnership between Itasca County and its forest users, landowners, forestry and logging professionals, education professionals, businesses and citizens.  They are formally called the FEAP Network Partners.  Hence, FEAP began by convening public, private, Native American and non-profit partners involved in forestry to develop collective key messages that clearly detailed the things youth, citizens and visitors should know about the working forest in the region (see FEAP Key Messages).

The FEAP Network Partners list continues to grow and include organizations that also benefit from the forest including the energy, arts, mining, and manufacturing sectors.  A standing, open invitation remains open continually.  FEAP continues to be operated as a flexible partnership model allowing partners to engage when/where/how their talent and resources allow them.  Partners credited for developing FEAP include:

·         ATV Association of Minnesota

·         Blandin Foundation

·         UPM/Blandin Paper Company

·         Educators in the greater Itasca County, MN area

·         Forest History Center

·         Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

·         Itasca County Land Department

·         Itasca County Soil and Water Conservation District

·         Minnesota Deer Hunters Association

·         Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, School Forest Program, Project Learning Tree

·         Minnesota Forest Industries (MFI)

·         Minnesota Timber Producers Association

·         Native American advisors and students at Deer River School, MN

·         Pittack Logging

·         Rajala Lumber

·         The Nature Conservancy

·         United States Forest Service

·         University of Minnesota-Extension

·         Visit Grand Rapids

Since the term “forestry” has several differing definitions, FEAP Network Partners decided to develop one definition by which they can all focus.  Forestry is defined as the art, science and appreciation of the balancing of ecologic, economic and social aspects of the forest. 

Initially focused on K-14 educators and students by offering educational opportunities through the annual FEAP Educators Academy, FEAP brought together educators and forest partners.  Together, they incorporated the context of the forest and the FEAP key messages into core curricular subjects such as mathematics, science, reading, social studies and communications.  Since 2004, approximately 105 educators representing over 2,900 students have benefitted.  FEAP Educator Academies are designed around lessons and activities that bring content alive for students.  Past topics have included:  Project Learning Tree; STEAM-Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics; and Tips & Techniques for Teaching Outdoors.  Continuing education credit and usually Master’s level credit is awarded to assist educators in licensure requirements.  At each academy, participants meet with FEAP Network Partners to ensure continued support, mutual appreciation, and innovative idea generation.

In 2008, FEAP Network Partners prioritized the key messages to include the following:

·         Partnerships and people help keep our forests healthy

·         Manage the forests for multiple uses

·         Sustain the forests for generations to come

·         Provide education about how the forest is necessary for the environment and the economy

·         Consider the interrelatedness of lakes, wildlife and diversity of the ecosystems within the forest

·         Forests provide us with renewable resources

·         Appreciate the forest

·         Recreate responsibly in the forest

In 2009 and 2010, FEAP focused on better communication about the area’s working forest to citizens and visitors.  The “If Trees Could Talk” communications campaign was launched and resulted in the development of the website, print ads, article series, radio public service announcements and a DVD created by the local television station.



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