A group of Honors Program students created a video game about sustainable forestry in collaboration with Menominee Tribal Enterprises (MTE). The group presented their work at an Arbor Day Peace Tree Planting Ceremony at the Children’s Museum of Green Bay in partnership with Menominee Tribal Enterprises and the Oneida Nation.

 Joshua Felske, Kyle Leverence, Syndey Madden and Samuel McPeak created “The Giving Forest,” an educational game rooted in sustainable forestry. The game challenges players to take care of their very own forest by using tools to plant, chop and clean their forest, while keeping sustainability in mind. With any good game, there are also challenges thrown in. Users are cautioned to watch out for hazards such as tornados, lighting, forest fires and sick trees.

The project was initiated in September when Nels Huse, MTE marketing manager, engaged in furthering the development of an educational game initially formed by Honors Program students for Earth Day in 2021. The original students, James Siedschlag, Kevin Adams and Jordan Schlick, aimed to make education engaging by creating a game, recognizing that hands-on learning is often most effective. This team shared their framework with Felske,  Leverence,  Madden and McPeak so they could build off of their work. This year's group also visited the MTE forest to spend time with forest managers and in the sawmill to understand the sustainability behind MTE so they could apply those elements to their game.   

During the Arbor Day ceremony, Huse stated the Forest Stewardship Council plans to share the game with Indigenous people, foresters and school children across the globe who want to learn about forestry. Huse also shared the game with Fred Pearce, author of A Trillion Trees: How We Can Reforest Our World, who said, “This is awesome. We can use this around the world.”

The students collaborated to use the skills they learned in class and at MTE to bring their forestry game idea to life. Felske, Madden and McPeak focused on the artwork while Leverence headed the coding portion of the project.

“My role in this project was to compile the work of my teammates and implement it via a software called Unity,” explained Leverence. “This ranged from using object-oriented programming to create algorithms for the desired feel of the game to modifying the sprites created by my teammates for game usage. It was nice to use the concepts I’ve learned at MSOE to make this game all the better.”

The group is proud of the final product and is excited for the public to play it. “I really enjoyed seeing the culmination of all our work in a final, working product. The idea of having others be able to experience that is cool as well,” said Leverence.

Next academic year, MSOE will continue its partnership with MTE to further advance "The Giving Forest." The group will collaborate with incoming freshmen and take on a mentorship role to facilitate the integration process. 

Click here to view and download “The Giving Forest” game

Watch the video below to view the full Arbor Day ceremony with remarks from the students and Huse and others.