For the third straight year a team of forestry students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison created the winning report in the annual Upper Midwest Capstone Competition — and took home a $1,000 prize for their efforts.
The winning team, the Buckythorns, developed a management plan for the Sunnyside Seed Farm, which Dane County recently acquired in order to protect the Black Earth Creek Resource Area from development. The property lies in the Town of Middleton along Hwy. 14 and contains a mix of farmland, forest, wetlands and riparian corridors as well as natural ridgelines that provide aesthetic vistas.
The students inventoried natural resources on the property and came up with alternative management scenarios, explains Jeff Stier, who teaches Forest 590-Integrated Resource Management, the capstone class for the Department of Forest Ecology and Management. The students prepared their report as a project for that class and provided a copy to Dane County Parks, which will be managing the land.
Team members included Joseph Lennart, Greenfield; Erin Predergast, Whitefish Bay; Adam Ridley, Chanhassen, Minn.; Joseph Scott, Withee; and Kristin Shy, Elm Grove.
The Capstone Award Program was created by educators and forestry professionals to promote experiences that help students learn to solve complex problems, work effectively in teams, integrate environmental and socio-economic factors and sustain forest resources and products.
Participating schools – Purdue University, Iowa State University, Michigan Technological University and the UW-Madison – all have capstone courses or sequences that require senior students working in teams to integrate their knowledge of natural resources while solving a forestry problem using holistic decision making.
Financial support for the program was provided by Plum Creek Timber Company, Stora Enso North America and The Forestland Group.
The reports can be viewed online at www.forest.wisc.edu/competition