River Trail School Urban Forest

Posted By: Joe Pepitone ACEC WI News, Awards,

2024 Engineering Excellence State Finalist

Entering Firm: GRAEF
Client: Milwaukee Public Schools

River Trail School of Agriculture and Science, nestled in Milwaukee's Northwest side, embodies a commitment to agricultural sciences education for approximately 400 K-8 students The forest started as a dream for staff who have worked for nearly a decade to build environmental programming at the school. Fueled by new grant funding, the school could take its agricultural science education to the next level.

GRAEF excitedly took on the project to create a self-sustaining urban forest on school grounds. The team worked with the client to find underutilized land to rehabilitate. Designers introduced chestnut, Asian pear, and hazelnut trees, along with berms and swales for improved stormwater management. These features capture, store, and infiltrate over 176,000 gallons of stormwater. Capturing and treating stormwater will support the forest’s growth and improve the local ecosystem.

Students actively participated in planting over 100 fruit and nut trees, gaining hands-on experiences The initiative, positions River Trail as a recognized specialty school within the district, potentially making Milwaukee Public Schools the only district in the country with a K-12 agriculture program. This urban forest stands as a testament to innovation, sustainability, and community-driven education.

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