Mercer School

2690 W Margaret St.
Mercer, WI 54547

Office: 715-476-2154

American Marten Research Project

Iron County American Marten Research Project


• To view the American Marten Vimeo video, “A Man for the Marten,” click here.

• To view the American Marten Youtube video, “Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge,” click here.

• To view the 2012 Final Report, click here.

In spring of 1999, the North Lakeland Discovery Center conducted a survey of school teachers in Vilas and Iron Counties in northern Wisconsin. Teachers identified environmental education needs in the region and suggested ways in which NLDC could supplement existing programs in the schools. Wisconsin state standards have exit expectations in environmental/ecological education for grades 4, 8 and 12. The WDNR has set environmental education as a priority in its youth programming with a special emphasis on outdoor skills. The ABDI-LCD has cited environmental education needs for Iron County as a top priority. These needs are outlined in its Land and Water Resource Plan. Working with school students is one tool outlined in that plan.


The Marten Monitoring project is actually celebrating its 14th year of research and education with Iron County high school students and local citizen science monitoring volunteers. Since its inception, the project was housed at the North Lakeland Discovery Center and for the first 7 years focused on fishers and then in recent years the American marten. To date, several hundred students have participated in the project at a variety of levels from simply attending a field session, to creating and completing a field research project over the period of several months or years. During the fall and winter months, American marten ecology, forestry, and forest habitats are the emphasis, all participants are exposed to outdoor skills such as snowshoeing, hiking, and orienteering.
Experience with forestry equipment, GPS, field survey methods, wildlife ecology, forest management techniques, and soil surveys are infused into the lessons and study design. Participants develop a research question, design the study goals and analyze and present results using computer programs such as excel and PowerPoint. The programs educational goals are to (1) encourage an appreciation for the Iron County Forest and area natural resources, (2) deepen participants understanding of natural resource management, and (3) to provide a practicum in scientific methods and research. Throughout the years participants and students have been invited to present their findings at a variety of professional conferences and meetings. Last year the project received the “Comeback Champs” award from the WDNR Endangered Resources Department as part of “Citizen-based Monitoring Month”. Some students who have participated in the program have and are planning to pursue careers in natural resource fields.