SDW Environmental Education
January 2018 Newsletter
This month we kick-off the winter season of environmental ed. with 1st grade students who spend a few hours exploring animal adaptations and habitats at the E.B. Shurts Center!
Students meet the turtles, snakes, salamanders and other critters that call the E.B. Shurts Center home, and learn about the special adaptations of each animal.
Students learn how to be nature detectives by studying animal tracks through a story and hands-on exploration.
Students explore the diorama room at the E.B. Shurts Center, identifying the habitats that are present in Waukesha County, and learning about the animals that live in them.
In the News
"Schools Buzzing with Excitement"
Students from Banting, Summit View, and Whittier Elementary Schools collaborated with SHARP Literacy and Carroll University's Prairie Springs Environmental Center to install beautiful artwork.
Meet an EE Teacher
How long have you been working in the program? Just since September 2017!
What is your favorite grade level to teach (so far)? This is a hard question... I like the variety of grade levels and experiences so I can't pick a favorite. Highlights from this fall that I love telling others: teaching at Lapham Peak, handling the live animals, getting to pull out my Spanish from college, getting in the river with the kids, and learning new skills from my coworkers!
What is your favorite thing about working with the EE program? I love being able to combine teaching kids and focused environmental ed. I never felt like I could do this in the regular classroom.
If you could live in any ecosystem on the earth, which would you choose and why? Coral reef, for sure! So much biodiversity, surprises around every turn, and no mosquitoes!
Tips for a Greener Community: Reducing "New" Purchases
Some items need to be purchased new, but when possible, it is great to cut back on new purchashes to help reduce the amount of waste that will eventually end up in a landfill. The EPA estimates that in 2013, the US produced over 250 million tons of waste, with paper products making up over 25% of that total.
Here are some ideas for reducing the items that you purchase "new" from the store:
- Buy re-usable items as often as possible. The list of possibilities is a long one, but includes things like re-usable sandwich bags, cloth napkins and towels, wool dryer balls, re-chargeable batteries, cloth shopping bags, re-usable coffee filters, and re-fillable ink cartridges.
- Buy used items at a local thrift store.
- If you only plan to use an item for a short time, see if you can borrow it from a friend, coworker, or neighbor.
- Share things like books, movies, games, or magazines with friends, co-workers, or neighbors. That way you will always have something different and exciting without having to buy it new.
- Have fun and learn a new skill by making your own products. Some ideas include candles, soaps, and cleaning solutions.
Who Am I?
Giant Leapord Moth, Hypercompe scribonia
This striking moth can be found in much of the eastern US. The common name for the larvae (or catepillar) stage is Giant Wolly Bear. The Giant Wolly Bear is polyphagous, which means it is able to feed on many different types of plants. One benefit of eating many different types of plants is that they may obtain toxins from the plants that can act as a defense from predators (University of Florida).
Wisconsin Nature Note
Its January in Wisconsin and we have already experienced a medley of winter weather ranging from rain and mud to snow and ice, and from 50 degrees to bitter cold in a matter of hours. Meanwhile, the East coast was hit by a bomb cyclone, and mudslides wreaked havoc in California. Scientists around the world are studying how climate change is impacting our weather patterns.
What is changing?
In 2017, the average winter temperature in the lower 48 states was 3.7 degrees F above average (NOAA). The Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) predicts that by the middle of the 21st century, average winter temperatures will continue to rise 5-11 degrees F (WICCI, p. 23). Additionally, the number of intense precipitation events in Wisconsin is increasing, with the number of intense precipitation events per decade doubling in the Madison area between 2000 and 2010 (WICCI, p. 28)
How do changes in climate impact the weather?
These changes in climate mean that weather patterns are becoming less predictable and weather events are often more severe. The National Climate Assessment (NCA) outlines how and why events like severe heat, drought, intense rainfall, flooding, and hurricanes are becoming more frequent and longer-lasting.
Why does it matter to me?
A wonderful resource for exploring other ways that climate change is affecting Wisconsin is Climate Wisconsin. Their website shares interactive tools and videos about how climate change is affecting fishing, skiing, farming, and more.