WCSD Ag Teacher Honored with Forest Stewardship Achievement Award

Wasatch High School Ag teacher, Matthew Zierenberg (affectionately known as “Mr. Z” by his students) has been honored with the 2022 Forest Stewardship Achievement Award by The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands

Mr. Zierenberg has promoted the importance of good forest/agroforest management among the students at Wasatch High School and strives to teach the importance of stewarding and help create future leaders in natural resource management.

With the support of the Spring Creek Nursery, Mr. Zierenberg was awarded a Forestry, Fire, and State Lands Outdoor Learning Grant to support his vision for student learning in the field of forestry. With the help of these grants, Mr. Zierenberg created a hands-on, outdoor classroom program called Innovative, Discovery-based, Educational, and Agricultural Leadership, also known as IDEAL Farms. Students at Wasatch High School can get their hands dirty and learn industry skills that can make them competitive.

IDEAL Farms is home to a native plant nursery, a fruit orchard, vegetable grow boxes, and an aquaponics greenhouse. Last year the program sold over $15,000 of inventory to the local community from their nursery and aquaponics greenhouse, promoting conservation and the use of native plants and trees in the local community.

Recently, Mr. Zierenberg partnered with the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands to conduct an urban forestry inventory of all the trees on the high school campus. This has led to implementing a “Forest Team” at the high school and has led Wasatch High to be the first K-12 school in Utah to be designated as a Tree Campus through the Arbor Day Foundation.

Each recipient was honored at an awards luncheon during the Utah Association of Conservation Districts annual convention on November 1. The award winners were nominated by their Area Forester, and the nominees were voted on at the Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee meeting in September.