519 East Sheridan Street, PO Box 609 • Eagle River, Wisconsin 54521 • (715) 479-6456 

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A (b)log of Natural Resources Information

As an environmental education center, Trees For Tomorrow’s mission is promote sustainable management of our natural resources through transformative educational experiences. To achieve this mission our inquiry-based lessons get student outdoors collecting data and observing their natural surroundings. Offering outdoor activities such as canoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing requires a large inventory of equipment to ensure we have a proper fit for all participants. Incidental wear and tear on equipment simply comes with the territory. To provide a safe and enjoyable time in the outdoors our equipment needs to be kept in tip-top shape. 


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Photos above (left to right): 1) A stack of snowshoes in need of repair, 2) The bottom of this snowshoe shows the type of wear and tear, 3) TFT Educator Todd Starling applying a fresh coat of varnish to the snowshoe.


Take for example our snowshoes. In winter every group that visits Trees For Tomorrow (TFT) spends the majority of their outdoor time wearing snowshoes. Most courses offered at TFT require the students to collect data off-trail and what better way to travel off-trail than on snowshoes?! With over 5,000 students annually, you can imagine the amount of use these 'shoes get. Combine this with the fact that we use traditional wooden snowshoes so they need constant monitoring and repair. During the winter season repairs are kept simple; tightening bindings, replacing bindings, re-tying webbing—basically anything to keep our snowshoes safe and usable during these busy months. However, as the seasons change and the snow melts away, the entire collection of snowshoes gets much-needed attention.


During the warmer months the ski shop gets turned into a workshop. Every snowshoe is brought down from the rack and inspected. Bindings are repaired/replaced. To ensure a much longer life all of the snowshoes get a fresh coat of varnish. Keeping the snowshoes well-varnished reduces wear and tear on the wooden frames and prolongs the webbing from drying, cracking, and breaking.



Photos above (left to right): 1) A row of cross-country skis in need of TLC; 2) Repair of the tail delamination


Much like the snowshoes, spring/summer gives us a chance to inspect and repair our cross-country ski equipment. Every ski is inspected for cracking, de-lamination, and to ensure the bindings are functional and securely attached. The skis that don’t pass this initial inspection are set aside, re-assessed and repaired if possible. 



Photos above (left to right): 1) Canoe with damage, 2) Sanding and cleaning the canoe in preparation of installing a skid plate, 3) Flaming the canoe to blush the surface.


The canoes are a different situation all together. Since most types of resin/adhesives don’t cure properly in the cold, repairs must be done during the season they are in use. This may mean having a canoe or two out of commission for a short period of time. However, the repairs are done as soon as possible ensuring the canoes are back in the water for use by the next group.



Photos above (left to right): 1) Masking the surface to reduce adhesive drips on the canoe, 2) Applying adhesive to soak the Kevlar material, 3) Finished skidplate applied to the canoe.


In the fall of 2019, we were fortunate to have one of our Road Scholar participants donate skid plates for our canoes. Skid plates are a Kevlar® protector that is applied to the bow and stern of canoes to reduce damage caused by accidental dragging of the canoes on the ground. Thanks to thoughtful donations our equipment can stay in tip-top shape, and will last for many more years of heavy use.


Four finished canoes ready to hit the water once again!


Author: Todd Starling, Trees For Tomorrow Educator