Lighting a fire

May 31, 2024

Students in a Forest and Natural Resource Management course observed a prescribed burn at Cloquet Forestry Center.

Students in orange hardhats standing in a smoky forest

Photo by Marcella Windmuller-Campione

Education has been poetically described as  “not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Students in FNRM 4511 Field Silviculture experienced the fire firsthand during a prescribed burn at the Cloquet Forestry Center earlier this month.

In 2022, collaboration between the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Bureau of Indian Affairs and U of M set the stage for burns on CFC land, a practice with both ecological and cultural significance. During this spring’s burn, students spoke with and observed the work of natural resource managers including those from the Fond Du Lac Band.

Silviculture—the art and science of how forests are stewarded—is a hands-on discipline, and a major component of this advanced field course is developing a multi-faceted stewardship plan for land in a Cloquet-area. During the May field silviculture course, students have the opportunity to bring their knowledge and skills together to develop a management plan.

“Students had the opportunity to see, feel, and experience a fire; this fire was a collaborative effort that highlighted relationships among people, and between people and the land, which are huge as students enter their future careers,” said Marcella Windmuller-Campione, instructor of the course and faculty member in the Department of Forest Resources.