SDW Environmental Education

March 2019 Newsletter

The snowy winter season kept us busy working with 4K, 1st grade and middle school students who studied living vs. nonliving, animal adaptations, and the environmental implications of various ice-melting methods.

We also welcomed 2nd and 3rd grade Waukesha County teachers who participated in an environmental education teacher tour. After spending the morning at E.B. Shurts participating in hands-on activities they travelled to Retzer Nature Center for the afternoon. It was an exciting day of learning for everyone!

As the last of the snow melts away, we are looking forward to the arrival of warmer weather and the arrival of hundreds of 2nd and 3rd grade students who will visit the Fox River Sanctuary to study pollinators and severe weather this spring. We'll also welcome middle school students participating in a variety of programs from water chemistry to kettle mapping.

Environmental Education Teacher Tour

The diorama room turned into a make-shift classroom as Waukesha County teachers explored ways to weave outdoor learning into their classroom experience.

Who am I?

Scroll to the bottom to find the answer...
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Wisconsin Nature Note: Waukesha County Citizen Science

Waukesha County has launched a new Citizen Science program called "Conservation in the Parks". The program aims to involve community members in a variety of projects including bird surveys, wetland monitoring, snake surveys, and more. People of any ability level are welcome to participate, and all necessary training and equipment is provided by Waukesha County staff. Check out the link above for a full list of opportunities.

Who's Got the Answers?

As spring approaches, many birds are laying eggs or building nests. Let's turn to NPR's Skunk Bear series to answer the question "How do birds get oxygen inside of their eggs?"

Meet an EE Teacher: Sandi Nitka

How long have you been working in the program?

I have worked with Environmental Education since September of 2000.

What is your favorite grade level to teach?

My favorite grade level to teach is 3rd grade. The students are so excited to be outside, trying and learning new experiences and finding out what is living in the Fox River.

What is your favorite thing about working with the EE program?

The amazing people I work with, who all bring something different to the program to enhance it. Also, the friendships through the years and feeling like a family. Plus you get to work outdoors and help teach our younger generations about the environment around them.

If you could live in any ecosystem on the earth, which would you choose and why?

I would probably choose some kind of forest. I think because of the immense diversity of plants, animals, insects and all things living there.

Words for Spring

Instructions on Not Giving Up
by Ada Limón

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

Who Am I Answer....


There are two Juniper species that are native to Wisconsin, Juniperus communis and Juniperus virginiana. Both species produce small blue berries that are enjoyed by many birds and small animals. Medicinally, juniper has been used to treat wounds and muscle pains.

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