Outdoor Sustainability Program

Outdoor Sustainability Program

Continuing the legacy...….the IREP program was not ONLY about the place. It was about experiences hard earned; camping, setting up life in the outdoors, dealing with weather, cooking , filtering water on long day hikes(or canoeing), actually hiking farther than 1 mile, dealing with peers in a different environment, personal communications without gadgets, living in tents and learning to get along together, figuring out ways to do things that are not in a book, movie making, being sustainable in the woods. These lessons don’t only belong to the Island. Sure, there are moose and wolves there, but that is only a small part of the program(and many students never actually saw one).

We made up a list of what made IREP great....

Camping in tents

Movie making/photography/art projects-students telling their own story

Solar setup to replace electrical grid

A “wild” place (you don’t need to be 2 hours away on an island to find wilderness)

Conservation programs

Flora and fauna lessons (nature hike)

History of the area


Tour of a dam (if nearby)

NPS(State park, Conservation agency, teachers, RWF ) sharing what they know


The island is a special place and our High Adventure Program will continue offering summer trips there, but all is not lost…..we have many places to practice the above concepts and mold a new program that will shine just as strongly as the old. Plus, no early am bussing and odd ferry schedules(getting stuck on the island,off the island, or needing to leave in the middle of the trip due to Superior’s weather).

Not going to a National Park ,our numbers of students can again be much greater (25-26) in all places except Grand Island (21 max students) , making the program more sustainable from a school’s standpoint. Schools could again fill up a whole “slot” by themselves (if wanted) since we are not limited by the ferry schedule any more and have room for more fall programs. If you would still like to share a program slot to make it easier to find enough teachers, we can figure who can share. The only limits will be weather during spring and fall, but lower Wisconsin warms up sooner than Upper Michigan, giving us a couple of extra weeks of programs available in southerly areas(northern schools can go to a program in Lower WI or Maquoketa, Iowa if they would like to.) Each program would be 1 week in length, get there Monday, leave Friday morning after cleanup giving 4 nights in tents.


What did we always practice while out on Isle Royale?  Sustainability….this program will be modeled on IREP and use the same principals that made IREP great for youth.


Bill would like to use certain areas near our dams and I have thought a bit about what and where and how and a few parks in Wisconsin also feel like a good fit for us since we don’t have dams in these wild areas and it would give local WI, Iowa, and Illinois schools a closer driving options (if wanted). ( I have attached a map showing all areas.)

1.Bill’s top pick is of course our AuTrain Michigan property area up near Lake Superior and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Canoeing is a natural here, but doesn’t need to be included to make the program great as we also have a ton of hiking areas nearby(Pictured Rocks, Lake Superior, Bay De Noc Trail). 

But AuTrain isn’t our only great place. What if a school could pick a place nearer themselves for less expensive bussing?


2.Park Falls WI has 2 of our dams on the Flambeau River that have campgrounds across the river…how about canoeing and camping? (even if no canoeing is wished for by the school board, either or both these 2 campsites make a great base camp and the area supports a lot of hiking trails and forest roads.)

3. What about the Maquoketa River in Maquoketa, Iowa- canoeing from camp to camp and programs with the Jackson County Conservation department. This area is a natural for a canoeing program.

4.Clam Dam area, which we know from our Isle Royale Trips is a great, wild area. There is a scenic group camp site on the Saint Croix River we can rent which is attached to scenic trails on the river in Governor Knowles State Park. Canoeing is also an option here (either the St. Croix or Clam River depending on flows at the time of the year.) Crex Meadows nature reserve runs great programs.


Maybe your school wants a program in Lower Wisconsin – there are 2 very good areas there

5.Kettle Moraine State Forest Northern section has part of the Ice Age Trail and a great group site, Historic Wade House is within a 3 mile hike.  No canoeing available here, but the hiking distances rival Isle Royale’s.

6. Then there is Devil’s Lake State park-again Ice Age trail runs through it, Aldo Leopold’s cabin area is near as is the National Crane Foundation. The hiking to Parfrey’s Glen along the Ice Age Trail and the trail up and over the cliffs around Devil’s Lake are also a similar to Isle Royale’s trail system.


7. The toughest place which includes a hop on a tiny pontoon boat ferry is Grand Island near Munising, MI(right across from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore)- the 2 group sites on the island are 2 ½- 3 miles from the dock, so a “real backpacking” adventure to get in.  This one would make sense in the fall (September -beginning of October as the group sites are underutilized once school starts and we would be able to get reservations. If ordered early enough reservations could also be picked up for August.) Great amounts of trails, surrounded by Lake Superior, it gives a great sense of being alone, especially in the fall.(Also the bugs go away which is very important on Grand Island.)


In terms of costs per student, fees to Renewable World Foundation  would be similar to IREP;

$75  for AuTrain, Flambeau, Clam River, Maquoketa River, or Kettle Moraine;

$83 for Devil’s Lake because the Aldo Leopold area and Crane Foundation cost a bit more,

and $81 for Grand Island because of the $20 ferry/Park fees.

Each school would need to supply transportation to the area (but many of the DNR and Forestry field trip transportation grants might be more available for these programs that weren’t available for IREP. )



We can adjust programming to fit your needs, whether it be hiking vs canoeing if your school board will not allow canoeing. As for time spent, 4 nights in tents is optimal.