SDW Environmental Education
September 2018 Newsletter
The summer was a wonderful season for us! We hosted two weeks of full-day summer camp with about 30 students in each session. The students explored water, plants, animals, and survival skills with a different theme each day. Our days were jam-packed with awesome, hands-on activities that the students really seemed to enjoy.
This summer we were also excited to expand our adult programming. We collaborated with the Adaptive Community Approach Program (ACAP) and welcomed the participants once a week for a 5-week series of programming. They studied Waukesha's water resources, the health of the river, and pollinators in Waukesha. We also offered teacher professional development trainings for Project WET, Project WILD, and KEEP.
Lastly, we collaborated with several community pre-K and school-age summer programs including the City of Waukesha, La Petite Academy, Young Scholars Learning Academy, and St. Luke's Lutheran Church to provide a wide variety of environmental education programming.
The fall season is already off to a great start with Kindergarten, 4th grade, 5th grade, and middle school programs ready to roll!
The younger students at summer camp learned how to weave and created their own nature weaving artwork. They collected leaves, pinecones, sticks, and other found objects to include as memories of their time at camp.
As always, the critters in the river were a major highlight for the summer camp students. The critters always seem to capture their curiosity and help them realize how much is living below the surface of the water.
Building Wood Duck Houses
The older students at summer camp learned about Wood Ducks and then got to try their hand at building a wood duck house to be installed along the Fox River.
In the News
Meet an EE Teacher
How long have you been working in the program?
I have worked for the program a total of almost 15 years. I worked for EE in the early 90s when I was easing back into teaching after being home with my kids for 12 years. I retired from the classroom in 2009 and returned to be part of the EE Staff that fall.
What is your favorite grade level to teach?
I spent most of my career in kindergarten and have a soft spot in my heart for those little people but love the diversity of reaching all ages of children.
What is your favorite thing about working with the EE program?
It combines my love of the out-of-doors and the opportunity to continue to teach kids. I’ve been blessed to work with wonderful co-workers over the years that make coming to work a real joy.
If you could live in any ecosystem on the earth, which would you choose and why?
I love our Wisconsin temperate forest ecosystem. I enjoy the change of seasons and yes, even the temperature. I’ve learned to enjoy the beauty of the desert but always look forward to returning home.
More Summer Pictures
River Testing with ACAP
It was a lovely morning with ACAP participants who were studying the critters living in the river and discussing how the presence and quantity of certain critters indicates the health of the Fox River.
EE Staff Take a Selfie
Our EE staff enjoyed test-running the Survival Challenge, a new program that we will use with middle school classes this fall. Here they are trying to take a selfie of their group with a morse code "SOS" message in order to complete the challenge.
A Messy Project
One of our messier projects at summer camp was making paper mache globes. Somewhere along the line we decided that it would be best to use a paste of elmers glue and water....which meant that kids were picking dried glue off their bodies for the entire day!
River Testing with ACAP
EE Staff Take a Selfie
Who Am I?
Scroll to the bottom to find the answer!
Words for Fall
"September" by John Updike
The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.
Tips for a Greener Community: Back to School Edition
- Host a Swap Party- Instead of going to the store to buy all new school supplies and clothes, get your friends and classmates together and swap items that you no longer need.
- Consider Transportation- Start carpooling, biking, walking, or taking the bus to school to cut down on the number of cars travelling to and from school.
- Pack Lunch the Reusable Way- Consider using reusable lunch boxes, cloth or silicon bags, or tupperware containers instead of single-use options. Making these small changes can cut down on both waste and cost!
Wisconsin Nature Note
Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative
Monarch butterfly populations have declined by 80% in the last 20 years (WDNR). Over the summer of 2018, a group of more than 70 stakeholders from diverse fields such as agriculture, transportation, utilities, land management, education, and government came together to form the Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative. The collaborative aims to build on the work of many organizations already working hard to support monarch populations. They will also work on drafting a Wisconsin Monarch Conservation Strategy that will be used as a roadmap for efforts across the state and the Midwest.
Who's Got the Answers?
Since we are already talking about butterflies and moths, let's try to answer the question: "How does a caterpillar transform into a butterfly?"
Butterfly metamorphasis is a fascinating phenomenon. According to NPR, as caterpillars move into the chrysalis, the "caterpillars shrink, shed their skin, their organs dissolve. Their insides turn to mush. Most of their cells die. But lurking in the goo are a few cells (the so-called adult or "imaginal" cells) that at this moment jump into action, reorganize all the free-floating proteins and other nutrients and turn what was once caterpillar into ... here comes the resurrection ... a moth!"
Check out the full article from NPR or the video below to learn more!
Who Am I Answer....
These moths are also commonly called sphinx, hawk, or hummingbird moths. They can have a wingspan of up to 5 inches and are most active in the month of July in Wisconsin.
Before becoming an adult month, the Hornworm larvae only feed on plants in the solanaceous family which includes common garden plants like tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and peppers.
The particular moth in the photo above hatched from a pupae that was living in our live animal room at E.B. Shurts! The pupa was donated to us by a teacher at West High School who had been watching it in their classroom for several months. Thinking that the conditions weren't right for it to mature and hatch, they donated it to the environmental education program to keep an eye on. We buried it in the dirt of the salamander aquarium, and several months later we were surprised to find an adult moth flying around the building!
For more information about the Tomato Hornworm, check out this link.