• WEB Restoration institute chainsaw
  • Herbicide application
  • Students on prescribed burn
  • Wetland delineation Ecological Restoration Institute
  • Prairie seed frost seeding - 20221209_030

Plant and Earth Science

Ecological Restoration Institute

The Plant and Earth Science Department is excited to present the Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI). The Institute seeks to develop student skills in natural resources on restoration projects around campus. Students will gain field experience that can be applied to their careers as well as certifications that will be useful for job placement. Learn more about our current projects of interest and certifications on this page. Contact Program Manager Kelsey Cowart to see how you can be involved with this innovative embarkment for students and the campus community.


  • Riverside Prairie: The open field behind the Agricultural Science Building and the Greenhouse offers great potential to restore native plants and offer experience in management practices such as herbicide application, prescribed burning, invasive species removal, and species diversity monitoring. Work has included a lot of invasive species management, a prescribed burn in Spring 2022 and Fall 2023, and introduction of native seed with a frost seeding in December 2022. Work continues to establish native plants through competition and direct plantings.
  • School Forest Restoration: The UWRF campus has two registered School Forests with the state of Wisconsin, providing a space for recreation and education. School Forest 1 is located near the horse farm and the School Forest 2 resides on the Mann Valley Farm. Both sites are undergoing invasive species removal to open up the canopy for annual native tree plantings since Spring 2021. School Forest 1 will be restored to a white pine forest and an oak savanna where School Forest 2 will largely remain an oak woodland forest. A new trail is installed in the School Forest 2 to open up recreation opportunitites for the entire campus and River Falls community.


A limited number of certification assistance is offered each semester, please reach out to Kelsey Cowart for availability.

  • Commercial Pesticide Applicator License: 2 certification types, Right-of-Way and Natural Areas ESM 296 and Aquatic & Mosquito ESM 295 applications, alternating spring semester.
  • CPR/First Aid Training: offered through Campus Recreation.
  • Wildland Firefighter Training: offered in spring semester ESM 190.
  • Boat Safety: offered through the Wisconsin DNR, enrolling under ESM 193, limited to 10 students per semester. 
  • ATV/Off Road Education: offered through the Wisconsin DNR, enrolling under ESM 192, limited to 10 students per semester.
  • Chainsaw Safety Course: Levels 1 and 2 offered with ESM 191 in fall semester and Levels 3 and 4 in spring semester.
  • Tractor Training: offered in coordination with Mann Valley Farm, introductory training with hands-on experience with small tractors, zero-turn lawn mower and skid steers.
  • Wilderness First Responder: students can register for SFED 244 to earn their certification. Students will gain valuable knowledge and experience for emergency response that may come up while working in the field. 

Inquiry Form

Interested in a Project or Certification? Fill out this form and Program Manager Kelsey Cowart will be in contact with you soon.


ERI Logo

For more information, contact:
Kelsey Cowart
Ecological Restoration Institute Program Manager

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Contact Us

Plant and Earth Science
324 Agricultural Science
611 S. 3rd St.
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