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!

In the News

After two years of collaborative effort between the School District of Waukesha, Carroll University, and Waukesha County, we are proud to present a comprehensive K-12 environmental education curriculum that will be available to all schools in Waukesha County. More information about the curriculum and programs can be found at this website.
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Meet an EE Teacher

This fall we are excited to welcome two new faces to the environmental program: Heather Malmborg and Michelle Hughes! You'll be seeing them around as they shadow and start teaching programs! Make sure to give them a warm welcome!

Debbie Kabitzke

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

Who Am I?

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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,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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....

....a Tomato Hornworm Moth (Manduca quinquemaculata)

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.

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Featured Picture

We experienced major flooding in early September at the Fox River Sanctuary. This picture shows many trees, benches, and a butterfly garden that were covered or surrounded by water.

What more info about SDW EE?

Feel free to reach out with questions, comments, or news by e-mailing or follow us on Twitter @SdwEnvEd!

Check out our website at