Deep Portage Learning Center Campus
This building was designed to incorporate several uses, including meals, teaching, and relaxing. The classrooms, dormitory rooms, decks, and Heritage Hall face south, allowing for solar heating and natural light during the day.
The RHC has the capability to house 175 students overnight, in our 27 rooms. The building is sectioned off into six wings, complete with 3-5 dorm rooms per wing, and a lounge at the end of each wing. The dorm rooms contain a shower, two washbasins, and bunk beds for 6 to 10 students. One room in each wing is fully designed for wheelchair accessibility. The south-facing windows allow for solar heating during the day, as well as a beautiful view of the birch forest behind the RHC.
Heritage Hall is heated by our seventy ton Wilkening fireplace, created by craftsmen, using local granite. The hall holds 250 people, which allows us to host overnight and day groups. Heritage Hall is one of the meeting places for the start of classes. The large fireplace provides a great spot for an indoor campfire.
The RHC includes two classrooms, each complete with two sinks, plenty of storage space, and natural lighting. The forestry classroom contains a large rock collection, donated to Deep Portage by Lois Schropp in memory of her father, Edward J. Harnagle, M.D. The classroom can accommodate thirty people.
Our two canteens can provide a cup of coffee or pop for teachers on breaks, and displays awards given to Deep Portage. There is a sink, microwave, and refrigerator in each canteen.
The Malcolm Moos Memorial Library is situated near the dining hall. It is complete with magazines and excellent resources on a variety of topics. The memorial library houses a smaller version of the fireplace in Heritage Hall, again made with local granite. The library is used as a meeting area and is open for research or reference.
In March 2000 we opened at 28,000 square foot addition to the Deep Portage RHC. This project included: 10 bedrooms that hold 10 guests, two classrooms, a 34 foot state-of-the-art indoor climbing wall and a 200 person great room/dining hall.
The Interpretive Center overlooks Bass Pond, and is filled with learning stations on loons, old growth forests, wildflowers, birds, and a touch-and-see table. Included is a display of mounted birds, fish, and mammals, complete with a key to all of the mounts. The Interpretive Center is often used as a classroom.
The bookstore is also located within the walls of the Center, and is home to a variety of different learning tools. Volunteers who are a part of the Friends of Deep Portage volunteer organization operate the bookstore. Items found in the bookstore include natural history books, t-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, Deep Portage souvenirs, as well as many other items. The proceeds from this enterprise help support the Deep Portage Education Fund.
Along with teaching, our staff is involved in research projects going on at Deep Portage. Deep Portgage is a Cooperative Weather Station, sending in data on a daily basis to the National Weather Service. Cass County continues to do research on land and wildlife management that can be found throughout the Reserve.
WOODS, WATER, WILDLIFE
Deep Portage Conservation Reserve is situated on a terminal glacial moraine, shaped by the last glacier to leave the area approximately 10,000 years ago. The movement of the glacier formed the peat bogs, ponds, hills, depressions, and lakes.
The Deep Portage woods consist of a mixed hardwood forest including Aspen, Birch, Red or Norway Pine, White Pine, Red and Burr White Oak, Maple and several other species. Each year Cass County harvests the Aspen trees: approximately 100 acres, in 10-acre sections. The Deep Portage Preserve, which surrounds the buildings with a radius of one square mile, has a hands-off approach to forest management. Within the one square mile timber and wildlife are not harvested.
Several demonstration projects are on going, such as the wildflower garden, planted and nurtured by Deep Portage volunteer Ione Strandberg and the Longville Garden Club. Other projects include a rural sewage disposal alternative demonstration unit, memorial gardens, a non-game habitat plot, Aspen regeneration plots, and White Pine plantations.
In order to have meals run smoothly, we ask that students help in cleaning up. This includes bussing dishes, washing tables, sweeping floors and straightening chairs. This will be discussed with students during orientation.
Deep Portage has a no-waste policy during mealtime. Your group will keep track of their food waste during the stay, which will be totalled at the end. This is an important part of conserving. We want the students to each what they take and if they are still hungry then they are welcome to come back for seconds. By reducing the amount of food that we throw away we are reducing the amount that is going into a landfill and the amount of money that is wasted on food that is not eaten. Our goal for each group staying at Deep Portage is to have no food waste. This will be discussed again with students during meal orientation.
Part of the new addition is a 34-foot state-of-the-art climbing wall. Students of all ages enjoy the physical and mental challenges that are an integral part of scaling the wall. There are two Deep Portage Staff members in each climbing class. We ask for two helpers from the visiting school as well.