Alcona Community School Forest Trail


Alcona Community Schools are thrilled to welcome you to our new school forest nature trail!  It’s been at least a four-year journey to get to today.  The process started while our current agri-science teacher, Connor Hubbard, was a student and eventually connected with Maureen Castern-French on a dream to acquire a property connected to the school that could be utilized for student and community purposes.  

Fast forward to 2019, the district was able to timber their property in Caledonia Township to utilize proceeds to purchase the 43 acres desired by Maureen and Connor years ago.  They both had the vision for the future and it was time for Alcona Community Schools to make it happen.  

Between that 2019 purchase, the stakeholders fought through COVID-19 and the dilemmas and pause in progress that it presented, but forged forward, even during the complicated spring and summer of 2020  Ironically the school forest trail started with a brush hog, Warren MacNeil, Courtney Winter(XC runner), and the Nelson family beginning to cut through the new school property.

The district has huge hopes/plans for the future of this property:

  • Comprehensive mapping signage 

  • Agri-science livestock & planting of vegetation 

  • School/community outdoor classroom 

  • Integration of school trail and XC trail to encompass all seasons 

  • Connection of school trail to Lincoln for hiking 

  • Interpretive signage for the school trail

We are thrilled to share the school forest with the community!  Thank you for all each of you have today to celebrate the start of this incredible opportunity for the community, students, and staff.  

Below are some Stewardship projects that the English 3 classes have been working on all year and have contributed to the property:



 Project Overview: The goal was to create a space for students to work on assignments in a more creative and healthy environment.

Purpose/Rationale: The purpose of this project was to ensure that students would not fall victim to mental health illnesses that could have been avoided. The hammock area was designed to give space and the extra quiet needed to focus without classroom walls. It is statistically known that the outside air can help reduce stress levels by improving blood pressure/heart rate, gives more energy, etc; all of which helps your mind and body strengthen. That is why this project was decided upon and gone through with. Students need more help than what is commonly known.

Group member: Ellyana (Axel) Keyser



Project Overview: We are creating benches to go around the school's nature trail and for the public to enjoy.

Purpose/Rationale: We wanted to make sure that community members have a place to rest if needed. We walked the trail at the beginning of the year and realized that it was a bigger undertaking than most people would be willing to take on. 

Group members: Abby Kozlow, Morgan Munsey, Blaire Dellar, Kaitlin Nardi, Bailey Turpen, Logan Patterson, Luke Byce, and Sydney Petty.

Waste Management

waste management

Project Overview: The overview of this project was to bring trash cans and waste management to the new property. We wanted to have it where trash cans would be ready for whoever walks the trail, that way they would not have to carry trash with them. They could just throw it away on the trail.

Purpose/Rationale: The reason why this was important was because our group members wanted to have a healthy trail for people to walk on and enjoy. We had to do a lot to get this project done and we finally completed it once we got the money from the property team, and we hope that the people that walk on our trail will throw their trash away and care about our trail. We built and bought trash cans for the reason to help our trails stay clean and we hope the people that walk on the trail will help with our goal.

Group members: Andrew Balk, Ashton Rigby, and Logan Frasier

Interpretive Signage

Interpretive Signage

Project Overview: We are in the process of getting interpretive signs and Michigan nature-related poems put together. The signs will be put up throughout the trail that goes behind our school. These signs will tell people about the nature around our school, the rules, and the history of the property.

Purpose/ Rationale: This project is essential because we are informing our community about the trail as well as the other projects. We want people to know the importance 

Group members: Logan Bates, Amanda DeSouza, Ryken Wallenmaier, Sierra West, Emalee Dorr, and Sophia Chessor

Water Feature

Water Feature

Project Overview: We are in the process of creating a pond to contribute to school property and to create a space for the community to enjoy.

Purpose/Rationale: We created this project because we love fishing. We felt the school property needed a water feature for community use and learning in science. We want future Alcona students to have the best outdoor learning experience possible. This includes learning how to raise fish, harvest bait, study aquatic life, and even learn to ice skate in the winter.

Group members: Logan Urban, Riley Farris, and Caleb Smith

Disc Golf

disc golf

Project Overview: Our goal was to create a disc golf course on the school trail available for the community to use. 

Purpose/Rationale: Having a disc golf course in Alcona would create another outdoor activity for people in the county to enjoy. It’s a good way to improve health as it gets people walking and can become a fun hobby to do with friends. Additionally, having this disc golf course gets people in nature, which is proven to increase happiness: something that everyone could use. 

Group members: Hayden Johnston, Logan Zuchowski, Owen Borsvold, Jack Goldstrom, Samuel Prince, Emily Lobaugh, and DJ Howe. 

Trail Brochures


Project Overview: We started this project because our former project was not working out. So we created the idea (with a little help from our English Teacher, Mrs. Hechlick) to have a brochure/pamphlet to show a little bit more information about our school forest.

Purpose/Rationale: The primary purpose is to have these pamphlets/brochures available to take and utilize. There is also a map that can help you through the trail. It has our forest motto; Take only pictures, leave only footprints. The time of the seasonal openings and when it closes are also included in this brochure.

Group members: Krystal Belanger and Ethan Erkkila

Donation Post

Donation Post

Project Overview: The goal of this project was to help maintain the school trail by collecting donations from trail users. 

Purpose/Rationale: To continue to steward our property in the future, we needed a way to raise funds to purchase the necessary items for waste collection and trail maintenance. This donation post was recycled from the Harrisville State Park, refurbished, and transplanted to the beginning of our trail. Hopefully, over time, we will be able to collect enough donations to ensure the cleanliness and beauty of our school property.

Group Member: Hunter Roiter

**Special Thanks to Warren MacNeill and Eric Ostrander for help with the post upgrade!

Thank you to everyone who helped make this property and these projects happen! We wouldn't be here today without the following people:

  • Connor Hubbard - Ag Science teacher & Property Team Member 

  • Jenny Schroeder - K-5 Science Teacher & Property Team Member 

  • Tina Stern - Agris-Science Paraprofessional & Property Team Member 

  • Tim Lee - Elementary Principal & Property Team Member

  • Tammy Nelson - XC Coach & Property Team Member 

  • Helen Ann Cordes - Career Navigator & Property Team Member 

  • Elizabeth Thomson- Middle School Science Teacher & Property Team Member

  • Travis Boik-School Social Worker & Property Team Member

  • Jamie Payne- 4th Grade Teacher & Property Team Member

  • Sarah Hechlik- High School English Teacher & Property Team Member

  • Warren MacNeill - Board of Education Member & Property Team Member 

  • Maureen Castern-French - Visionary and Farm to Fork Member 

  • Mary Ellen Jones - Visionary & Farm to Fork Member 

  • Judy MacNeill - Visionary & Farm to Fork Member 

  • Mr. Tim Campbell- High School Woodshop Teacher & Bench Constructor

  • Mr. Ben Erickson- High School English Teacher & Disc Golf Coordinator

  • Rodney Kilbourn - Realtor - Byce Realty 

  • Rebecca Abend - Realtor - Abram Realty 

  • Harmon Logging - Logger of Caledonia Property 

  • HuronACCOA

  • Alcona County Commissioners 

  • Alcona Conservation District 

  • Alcona FFA Alumni 

  • Alcona Health Center

  • Inspiration Alcona 

  • MSU Extension 

  • MiSTEM Network

  • Northern Michigan Learning Consortium

  •  Pines - Supporter of Caledonia & 43 Acre Project 

  • Eric Brandon - Forester 

  • NEMIGLSI - Supporter of Caledonia & 43 Acres Project

  • Eric Ostrander - Harrisville State Park  

  • Billie and Bill Thompson - Local Supporters 

  • Alcona Maintenance Staff

    • George Hirschfelt, Mike Corn, Don Neuenfeldt 

  • Danny Kukowski & Lincoln Sand and Gravel

  • Alex Code & Line 45 

  • Quentin McNichols - Forester 

  • Alcona Schools Staff/Students - Engagement & Support 

  • Alcona Board of Education:

    • Chad Spitsnagel - President 

    • Warren MacNeill - Vice President 

    • Joel Blohm - Secretary 

    • Erika Rice - Treasurer 

    • Steve Yokom - Trustee

    • Vicky Hansen - Trustee

    • Brandon - Schroeder - Trustee  

We are thrilled to share the school forest with the community!  Thank you for all each of you have today to celebrate the start of this incredible opportunity for the community, students, and staff.  

Go Tigers!