SDW Environmental Education

June 2019 Newsletter

This spring we worked with 2nd grade students who were studying pollination and 3rd grade students who were studying severe weather. The weather cooperated and showed the 3rd grade students that frequent heavy rainfall leads to consistent flooding of the Fox River. Teachers, volunteers, and students were wonderful in adapting to the difficult river conditions we faced this spring. We also worked with several middle school classes who visited Lapham Peak, Camp Whitcomb Mason, or the Fox River Sanctuary for a wide variety of programs.

This summer we will host several adult workshops including Nature Art, Project WILD, and DIY Outdoor Projects. We will welcome Waukesha County teachers on two teacher tours and offer PD for SDW teachers through Summer Institute. Finally, we'll again be offering two weeks of Fox River Adventures summer camp! We have a lot to look forward to!

EE in the News

The Waukesha Freeman recently published a story about the collaborative effort between the School District of Waukesha, Carroll University, and Waukesha County to complete a county-wide environmental education curriculum guide. For more information check out the article below or visit

Celebrating EE Teachers' Retirements

This spring we celebrated the retirements of two wonderful EE teachers: Debbie Kabitzke and Karen Vaklyes. At the celebration we had many generations of EE teachers and directors present. It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate how much the program has developed since its inception over 40 years ago.
Big picture

Who am I?

Scroll to the bottom to find the answer...
Big picture

Middle School Programming

Who's Got The Answers?

Have you ever wanted to identify some of the constellations that you see in the night sky? Check out this interactive video to learn about some of the constellations in the sky this summer. Use your mouse to move around the sky in the video, even while it is playing!

To find a great place to view the stars, use this light pollution map to find the darkest location near you.

Meet an EE Teacher: Laurie Longtine

How long have you worked with the EE program?

Fifteen Years

What is your favorite grade level to teach?

5th grade because we teach and learn about water, my personal passion.

What do you enjoy most about working with the EE program?

The School District of Waukesha was teaching students about the environment and engaging students in outdoor learning long before many other school districts. Our Environmental Education program was a model for educators across the United States and even other countries, inspiring their own outdoor education programs. I also love working outside where I can get my knees dirty!

If you could live in any ecosystem anywhere on the planet, what would you choose and why?

I would live in an Oak Savannah, sometimes called an oak opening. It’s really a prairie with big burr oaks spreading their branches with plenty of space between them. Prairies are fast disappearing in Wisconsin and other states, so it’s important to save them as they were when Native Americans roamed the open prairies. The oaks can live to be 200 years old. I like to wonder what events in history are part of each burr oak’s story.

North High School Service Learning Day

This spring, over 30 students from North High School spent a morning removing Garlic Mustard from the Fox River Sanctuary. We were grateful for their hard work!

Blast from the Past

Beginning in 1978, the SDW EE program produced monthly or quarterly newsletters with updates about the program, the environment, and local happenings. Recently, all of these newsletters were scanned and digitized in hopes that they could be better preserved and more easily shared. You can read the old newsletters by clicking on the links below.

NOTE Newsletters, 1978-1991 ----- PEN Newsletters, 1980-1996
Big picture

Who Am I Answer....

Wild Cucumber, Echinocystis lobata

This plant has a very interesting name origin! According to the University of Wisconsin Madison, "The name Echinocystis comes from the Greek echinos for “hedgehog” and cystis for “bladder”, appropriately describing the spiny fruit."

The "hedgehog bladder" fruits are not edible to humans. Follow this link for more information:

Words for Summer

From Thundersnow to Heatstroke

Experiences of an Environmental Education teacher

And the 1st grader who told me he knew what we were going to be using today—“The five sentences!”

And the 3rd grade teacher who foreshadowed the day when she reminded her student: “Kevin, we don’t lick our friends.” That’s no typo: It IS lick.

And the many kindergarteners, first, second and third graders who gave me a hug.

And the 5th grader who thanked me and told me he learned a lot about chemistry that day.

And the classroom aide who thanked me for coming up with an accommodation for her special needs student.

And the many days that were so achingly beautiful.

And the trillium, shooting star, and wood anemones for blooming so delicately in spring, in one spot in the Sanctuary—still!

And the critters—large and small—who fascinate us and thrill our students.

And the parent volunteers who were so helpful, so good with kids, taught me a lot, and understood it wasn’t just their own child they were there for.

That’s our world, and that, plus the Sharpie marker cap on the caulk gun, completes me.

by Laurie Longtine, EE Teacher

Big picture

Looking for 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