Earth Partnership for Schools Program Receives Major Grant


The University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum is one of 37 museums or libraries out of 183 applications to receive a 2006 National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Under the terms of the grant, the Arboretum will replicate and expand on a model K-12 teacher professional development program that focuses on enhancing teaching and student learning through the process of restoring native ecosystems on school grounds.

The Restoration-Education, Science Training and Outreach to Regional Educators (RESTORE) project builds on the nationally recognized model, established at the Arboretum, called Earth Partnership for Schools (EPS) and makes it available to a larger audience.

National Leadership Grants help libraries and museums advance learning, build digital resources, and conduct research and demonstration projects. The selected projects are national models that will help foster individual achievement, community responsibility, and lifelong learning. Many exemplify the partnerships and collaborations necessary among libraries, museums, and other institutions to build strong educational resources with lasting impact on the community.

The Arboretum-based RESTORE program emphasizes inquiry-based learning that incorporates education reform into science, math, social studies, language arts and other subjects. Project activities include developing leadership training courses, videoconferences and Web-based communication so that other interested organizations can implement the EPS program in their home states. The restoration of living environments will result in lifelong learning skills such as collaboration, decision-making and scientific knowledge.

Partners in this project include the Center for Earth and Environmental Science at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis; Dyck Arboretum of the Plains (Kan.); California State University Monterey Bay’s Watershed Institute; Jefferson County Public Schools Center for Environmental Education (Ky.); Carthage College; Standing Cedars Land Trust/Philadelphia Community Farm; UW-Stout; Northland College and the Urban Ecology Center, among others.

“We are improving the quality of education and making learning relevant to students by using the restoration process to provide hands-on exploration using school grounds as an outdoor classroom,” says Earth Partnership for Schools Program Director Libby McCann. “The experience brings schools and communities together and improves student performance.”

The Arboretum’s Earth Partnership program began in 1991 as an outgrowth of the Arboretum’s focus on ecological restoration as a way of establishing a positive relationship between people and the land. The Arboretum’s world-famous pioneering restoration work, initiated by Aldo Leopold and his colleagues in the 1930s, provides living laboratories for restoration-related research and teaching.

Located between Lake Wingra and the West Beltline Highway at 1207 Seminole Highway, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum features the restored prairies, forests and wetlands of pre-settlement Wisconsin. This 1,260-acre arboretum also houses flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection. Educational tours for groups and the general public, science and nature-based classes for all ages and abilities, and a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for groups, families and individuals are available.