Middle School Environmental Education
The field biology program got its start in the district when the middle school began working with a field biologist from the Wisconsin Green Schools Network (WGSN). Students in grades 6-8 currently participate weekly in outdoor field experiences that promote environmental literacy and land stewardship. Teachers and the field biologist work together to plan project-based, hands-on learning experiences in the field that are usually based on an annual theme. In addition, field days include outdoor survival days, off-site excursions, and land stewardship days. The middle school team, comprising of students and staff, work hard together to provide valuable field experiences for all students.
The theme for the 2016-17 year is "Think Global, Act Local." Some topics of study include land restoration, rain gardens and water quality, soil quality and plants, and fish stocking.
Each year students participate in Survival Day. A tradition since 2002, Survival Day is an eagerly anticipated experience! Students prepare for Survival Day throughout the year by honing their shelter and fire building skills, learning to administer first aid, and having an orienteering training. Students then have to be ready to use these skills at a moments notice as they spend an entire, unannounced day in the field.
Students participate in monthly single spots where they choose one spot to visit in order to reflect about phenology at their spot. Click on the file below to read an article written by one of our middle school students that explains this field experience. For more phenology information on what is happening in Wisconsin, visit the Environmental Education for Kids (EEK) website.
Students often take off-site trips as part of their field days. Some of the trips have included birding with the Madison Audubon Society at Governor Dodge State Park, canoeing at Blackhawk Lake, learning about water quality with the DNR at Blackhawk Lake, visiting local community properties (oak savanna, pumpkin farm, and more), frog surveys at nearby wetlands, and trips to Madison locations, such as a trip to the UW-Arboretum. These trips are focused on environmental education topics and often include working with community partners, such as the DNR, Trout Unlimited, Audubon Society, and other local experts.
Land Stewardship and Project-Based Learning
Students also work regularly on their school grounds where they participate in studies involving their prairie, school garden, butterfly garden, school forest, lasagna garden, and wetland. Project-based learning and hands-on activities help students make meaningful connections to their natural surroundings. A few examples of projects and activities have included a woodland restoration project, soil and watershed studies, citizen science surveys, water quality studies, lasagna garden activities, soil studies, garden projects, and a bird project.