Since the Cofrin Memorial Arboretum opening in the mid-1970s, thousands of students have had the opportunity to trade four walls for a forest, and pencils for open prairies. “At UW-Green Bay, we are so lucky to have this amazing resource so close to us. Being able to simply walk from an indoor classroom to the outdoor classroom in the arboretum is extremely convenient, not to mention that your resource for learning is always around you when you’re on campus,” said Norah Swenson, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2021 and is pursuing her master’s degree in environmental science and policy.
The Cofrin Memorial Arboretum forms a natural boundary of 290 acres encircling the UW-Green Bay campus and provides valuable habitat and ecosystem services as well as access for research, field trips, wildlife viewing and recreation. In 1975, an endowment from the the children of John Cofrin and grandchildren of Austin Cofrin allowed the university to develop a system of trails and plantings, purchase additional property, and improve the arboretum’s botanical offerings. Bob Howe, UW-Green Bay’s chair of biology and director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, said many classes beyond science courses utilize the arboretum. “We’ve had photography classes, poetry classes, art classes and more,” he said. “It’s great to just walk outside and have the area alive with life where you can demonstrate something to students or they can see what they’ve learned in the classroom come to life. It’s truly an outdoor classroom.”