Pittsville High School pioneers high school cranberry science program

By Joel Waldinger | October 19, 2022


Fall in Wisconsin ushers in cool air, golden leaves and a flood of red delicious cranberries. Wisconsin is by far the largest growing region in the world and Pittsville located in Wood County is the exact center of the state. It grows 60-percent of the nation’s cranberries. As for the city of Pittsville, there is a unique cranberry connection. The high school offers the only cranberry science class in the country.

Teaching that one-of-a-kind high school cranberry science class is Lindsay Meissner, “I grew-up in the Marshfield area, so in Wood County. Most of my knowledge, however, has come from teaching the class the last five years.” Sharing the pride about the local cranberry crop starts at an early age in this area. For Sara LaCoursiere the cranberry science class provides a hands-on lesson from the land, “We learn about pest and deer. We also learn about how everything works and the processes and a little bit more about the equipment.”

High school students also lead the “Splash of Cranberry Tour”, providing people with a direct encounter with Wisconsin’s cranberry industry. Meissner says, “People are just curious about cranberries. This is our 21st year of cranberry tours. For the guests to be able to go out and see the production and harvesting is definitely a unique aspect to the course.” The tours show what it takes to support a berry crop and how it generates nearly a billion dollars in revenue and four thousand jobs.

The science class may be about cranberries, but in the end Meissner feels it’s more about growing a sense of community, “They actually learned to appreciate why Pittsville is Pittsville and appreciating where they come from. That’s how this community stays successful.”

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger is a reporter for the “Wisconsin Life” project and considers a sunset over the “big island” on Manson Lake to be a perfect ending to a day of fishing and fun in the Northwoods. 

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